Friday, June 19, 2015

On Romanticizing the Writing Life

We are all guilty of romanticizing the writing life from time to time. It's so easy to do when you only look at finished products — works of beauty and truth and poetry that enrich the lives of everyone who reads them.

Of course, behind all that richness and beauty lay hours of mental anguish and fear. We occasionally talk about that too, but we try not to dwell on it too long because, look! It was all worth it for this great piece of literature! Right?

I imagine that all book writing — novels, biographies, histories, etc. — is like giving birth. Certainly there's a lot of pain and pushing yourself to bring your baby into the world. And that baby brings you so much joy for a while, in spite of all the shit you have to deal with because of it.

And eventually, you start thinking about the next baby.

And it's so easy to forget (sometimes actively) the pain that you went through the first time around.

But even when you do remember, or at least acknowledge, the anguish you are forcing yourself to undergo all again, it's all worth it in the end because you're putting yourself through it out of love.

And isn't that what romanticizing a subject is all about? Justifying self-inflicted pain in the name of love?

And I don't think we'd want it any other way. A world without pain would be a world with less love, and less love is never good target.