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Stephen R Donaldson on writing

Stephen Donaldson answered another one of my questions recently. I asked:

You’ve answered lots of questions about the challenges of writing, but I don’t think you’ve ever said whether you actually enjoy writing. (I’ve just done a search for ‘enjoy’ and, although I didn’t read every answer, the closer I found was an answer to one of my earlier questions in which you said you didn’t enjoy rewriting.)

So – do you enjoy writing? And, of course, I mean enjoy in a broad sense – I don’t mean ‘Is it fun to write?’, but is it broadly a pleasurable experience? Are there certain things that are more enjoyable to write than others, or does it depend on your state of mind at the time?

I did creative writing at university and I remember one of my lecturers saying something along the lines that if writing is fun, you’re probably not very good. Is that something that rings a bell with you?

He replied:

“If writing is fun, you’re probably not very good.” I can’t speak for anyone else. And in any case, the assertion is too broad to be useful. But it sure rings a bell for me.

I would never use a word like “enjoy” to describe the experience of writing. I call it “wrestling with the Angel of the Lord”: it’s always arduous, painful, and frustrating. In fact, whenever I’m writing easily, I know I’m doing something wrong. Which explains, at least in part, why it takes me so &^#$% long to produce a book.

So why do I do it? Why do I bother? Well, this is the work I was born to do. I’m more consistently alive when I’m writing than I am under most other circumstances. Writing makes me–for lack of a better term–a bigger person than I could hope to be otherwise. So it’s hard. So what? Name something that you consider worth doing on a profound level; and if you think it’s easy–or even fun–I’ll be inclined to think that you aren’t putting your heart into it.

Source: Stephen R Donaldson Official Website.

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