A Nice Problem to Have

A writing friend of mine sent me the following quote: A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947

Well, that sounds a little self serving, doesn’t it? I mean, if you are having trouble writing, if the spigot won’t spig and no words or clever phrases pour forth, then you can claim association with the likes of Thomas Mann, and say, I’m having trouble writing because I am a WRITER. (Back of hand to forehead, profile to the audience, a loud sigh and eyes pleading to the heavens for a more productive muse.)

This friend of mine is a marvelous writer. Reading her work you might think she sits at her computer and great characters and dialogue jump from her fingertips and appear on the screen, ready for publication in one draft. That’s because she’s a master craftsman. By the time we get to read her work she has gone over each and every word, phrase, telling detail of character and place with deftness and we laugh or cry rolling along her narrative arc to a clever conclusion. Then we want more.

But, talented and hard working as she is, sometimes nothing comes. Her muse goes to the Caribbean to work on his tan.

It’s good to have writing friends, writing circles, critique groups. We have a Salon. We have aspirations of being literary. And occasionally, we are. We’ve granted the term enough elasticity to include us. And we’ve granted each other enough grace to affirm each other’s status as writers. That’s because we know what it takes to get a story, a poem, a book ready for anyone besides trusted friends and a tight circle of like-struggling word crafters to read.

Writing difficult? Well sure it is. But what a fortunate and precious thing to complain about. We get to play with words, phrases, phonetics, meter, rhythm, subtle meanings contained within the exact choice of word. To most writers I have encountered, these are the ‘things’ that have delighted and amused us since we could hold open a book of nursery rhymes in our little round baby hands.