Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You Mean Some People Do This For Fun?

Rant Alert!

I often get pissed off when I hear writers say "I only do this for fun," or "I write for my own entertainment" or "I'll give up writing when it stops being fun." These statements (especially the last one - which assumes we have a choice in the matter), along with a host of other ones just like them, mean nothing to me. I don't understand them. For fun, I watch football, go for a run, kick a ball about in the park with my son, get pissed with my mates, have sex, eat curry...and a host of other truly fun things.

I do not write for fun. I write for many other complex reasons - many of them possibly psychotic - but never for a bit of a laugh.

There's no fun to be had from sitting up until 2am in the morning wrestling with problems of grammar and syntax when the alarm's set to go off at 6:45 to wake me up in time for work. There's no enjoyment in agonising over that comma or that hyphen - are they in the right place? Should they even be there anyway? - for hours on end, until my eyesight begins to blur and I get a bastard of a headache that stays with me all the next day.

I've heard other writers say that writing isn't hard work, that it's easy and - yes - "fun". If that's the case, then I suggest you're not doing it properly. Writing a novel is  fucking hard work. It's graft, like building a stone wall across an endless field, or hammering away at a hunk of granite to reveal the sculpture locked inside. You have to keep a whole world alive inside your head while you go about the rest of your day, pretending that you're really concentrating on what that other person's saying rather than developing the next plot point in your head, or speaking dialogue aloud as you cook the dinner or load the dishwasher... You have to sacrifice time with your family (or sleep) because you simply have to get that idea down on the page before it vanishes.

So, yeah, when I want to have fun I reach for a beer and a takeaway menu, or pick up the phone and arrange a night in the pub, or take my kid across the park. Writing's what I do because I have no choice. If I did have a choice, do you think I'd sit up all night in front of a computer screen just to get the next couple of chapters plotted out before I crawl into bed?

Would I hell.


Anonymous said...

I'd agree that writing is fun, just not all the time.

People who write "just for fun" a) rarely do write, and b) aren't actually writers. I write because I have to. When, for one reason or another, I can't write, my mood is seriously adversely affected. I can entirely sympathise with being sat infront of a laptop screen and not being able to get the damn story out right, and really, really wanting to go to bed.

It's a gift and a burden.

Anonymous said...

Gary, are seeing inside my head? This could be my rant, word for word. Wouldn't it be so easy not to do this? This agonizing self-torture? Writing isn't fun, not one bit.