Oh that crazy, zany Chicago literary elite, why are they always so…right?
by Wyl Villacres
Writing sucks. Seriously. And not in the Dorothy Parker “I hate writing, I love having written” bullshit way, either. I mean, the act of putting words on paper is shitty, and she’s right in that regard, but the things that come after are just as bad. Because when you’re writing as your form of art, the second half of the writing process is even worse. Or at least for me it is.
I want to start off by saying that I’m not going to come around to some fantastic conclusion about why it’s important to preserver and how practice makes perfect or even-if-you-fail-you-still-need-to-do-it because 1. I don’t know you or your life so how could I give you advice? 2. I suck at this whole thing, so I don’t have the resume to back any advice I’d give, and 3. I don’t even have advice for myself. This isn’t a place to find answers, because in the end, all I have are questions. But writing, hacking away in my apartment or in the coffee shop, between jobs or at absurd hours, starts to get horrifyingly solitary, and I need to be in public.
Writing, to me, is some form of penance I suppose. Like whipping yourself to prove your devotion to your god (which I saw in The Da Vinci Code movie). A sort of I’ve done some fucked up things that I need to relive or I hate this part of myself, so I will assign it to a character Sisyphean task. And then to go back and worry about a story arc or a plot line or imagery or any number of things to make sure your story is more full, only to go back again and again, only to go line by line to make sure everything, every secret or failure, every hope or desire, every horrific side of yourself that normal people keep buried is worded as clearly as possible is fucking abysmal. It’s like shitting your pants and having to tell everyone you pass on your way home that you shat your pants, and making sure to describe the consistency and remind them how horrifically embarrassing it is. Every day. For hours at a time.
And sure, sometimes writing can be cathartic. But that’s the personal stuff. That’s the journal stuff that never sees the light of day. That’s the folder within a folder that you keep for you. The catharsis ends when you start working on it with the idea that someone else might want to read about that one time, when you went to sleep-away camp, you had your first kiss and it was pretty much everything you expected and not in a good way. The writing seems like a pointless venture half of the time as you end up stopping before the story is complete because, really, no one cares about how drunk you got that one time. And torturing yourself with every keystroke is fun and all, but when you consider the ceaseless march of time and how every wasted story brings you one minute close to your death, writing starts to seem like something you might as well have given up long before you sunk your money into the degree.