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Writing Is Hard. Coal Mining Is Harder.

coal mining is harder -

“Writing is hard. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal?”

Writing’s hard. So hard that it makes me want to chuck what I’ve written into the nearest bin and climb under the covers for a well-earned nap. I have too much research, distilling, writing, and rewriting to do. Five lifetimes’ worth at least.

What if I can’t get enough done? Or what if getting enough done isn’t good enough? What if I actually get it all done and no one wants it, buys it, reads it, or gives a flying fig? What if simply using phrases like “flying fig” makes me a complete dolt who should change professions (dog walking or lawn care, maybe)?

I have a finite amount of energy. The weight’s too heavy. I can’t carry the load. It’s too much.

Feels good to get that off my chest. Poor, sad, tragic me. Now it’s time to get back to work.

“How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you –,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”
~ Dear Sugar, The Rumpus

Thanks, Sugar. You’re swell.

2 Responses

  1. Had a few moments like this myself yesterday. You will always have doubts creep in. Shake them off, and keep moving forward. You have to believe in your vision and daily chip off a chunk that is between you and it. Keep up the good work.

  2. I find that the less I think about what I’m doing and the more I simply do, the better off I am. Analytically speaking, novel writing is a strange and almost inexplicable long-term task. That’s why I try to focus on just one scene at a time.

    You’re like me in that way, Mg–you’re an overthinker. Beat the dead horse, then beat the burial plot. Thank God for moments of lucidity and pockets of productivity. Thank God for doing vs. eternal analysis of what has and has not been done.

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