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Writing is easy

November 15, 2009

I was reading Irving Sandler’s interview with Jerry Saltz for the Brooklyn Rail when I came across this quote (originally from Red Smith):

Writing is easy: you sit down at a typewriter put a piece of paper in and… open a vein.

I cannot tell you exactly why I find this quote enthralling, but it hits a nerve somewhere. Jerry Saltz uses it to talk about the painstaking process of re-writing and editing, and how good writing is rarely natural. I recognise this: to me it means that while anyone can write, you have to truly teach yourself to write well, to write with the exact voice that you intended, and at the most appropriate pitch. In a way learning how to write is like trying to master a foreign language, or learning to analyse poetry, your skill improves progressively, the horizon of perceivable nuances widening with every step you take.

Or perhaps in this quote I see the belief that if you don’t open yourself utterly then your writing will lie opaque and hushed on the page. It’s not necessarily your emotions that need to be poured from the pen, or your ideas; but your dedication.

I have toyed with writing for long periods of time in my life, and this blog is my latest experiment in that sense. My writing, in whichever language, is far from being where I would like it to be; and the Red Smith quote reminds me that I need to keep stubbornly exercising, and to always put all my will in the effort.

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