Love Writing or Love Having Written?

My estimable fellow Doublethink editor Cheryl Miller wonders about the writing life:

here’s a reason for the saying, “I hate writing; I love having written.” (Anyone know who said this? I have Dorothy Parker, but I attribute everything cool to Dorothy Parker.) Every time I sit down to write a piece, I think of how bad I am at writing and how I’m going to go to law school so I can at least make tons of money doing a job I hate. But then I finish and I’m elated (you can decide if that’s just the exhaustion talking). Aside for “born writers”—people who just can’t stop writing (lucky few!)—I think this is probably the experience for most of us.

I hear this on occasion, but it’s always seemed somewhat strange to me. While writing can be frustrating from time to time, I’ve always found the actual business of writing — of sitting down with a stack of books, an dozen open browser windows, a dozen pages of notes, and a pot of coffee — incredibly fulfilling. Sure, it’s difficult from time to time; it can be a slog, especially if you’re busy or distracted. But as with any activity, even those which are typically enjoyable, not every project goes perfectly. (It’s possible to be annoyed going to a theme park, or have a bad day while on vacation, etc. etc.)

And I’ve actually sort of wondered about writers who profess not to enjoy the process of writing. The whole reason I wanted to write professionally in the first place was so that I could spend my days doing something enjoyable, even if that meant not making as much as if I were, say, a lawyer. It’s worth it because I spend my days reading and writing and talking with interesting people, many of whom are also writers.

Also I should note that I completely disagree that Cheryl is “bad at writing.” That’s just nonsense, and obviously so.