I used to think author photographs on book jackets were stony-faced and black and white to make readers think the writers were seriously brilliant, thus implying their work was brilliant and deserved reading. Now, after a few decades spent writing (with varied success) I think those photos are printed in shades of gray because the authors in them are gray—morose—miserable even, because writing is hard. Even humorist, columnist, satirist, Dave Barry, author of more than 30 books and Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, a guy I imagined spent his days chuckling as he clicked away on his keyboard, finds it hard. The Summer 2010 Author’s Guild Bulletin published a snippet from The New Your Times Magazine interview in which Barry described his writing routine:
“Get Coffee. Stare at screen. Write a bunch of things that aren’t any good. Then comes that moment when I’ll say, ‘That’s still not any good.’”
Am there…do that! Which begs the burning question: If writing is so bloody hard, why do it?
In the same issue of the AG Bulletin, Lisa Grunwald, suspected author of Primary Colors, actual author of The Irresistible Henry House (named the “Best Book of 2010-so far”) answered the question:
“Some days, it’s torture,” she said. “But just that business of writing a good sentence—it’s authentically joyful.”
It’s a joy to devote this day to focusing on what is right in my life, to recognize and give thanks for all I have—including the ability to write, the mind to imagine, the time to dream, and the desire to strive for good sentences, one after another after another…