Is Writing Painful, A Celebration, Or A Little Of Both?

Some writers, especially the seasoned ones whose works we all know at a quick glance, look at the action of writing in a different way. Where as one may find the process wildly fulfilling and celebratory, another may deem it as the bane of his existence.

I found a couple unique examples of this as I was perusing one of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings. The site offers clarity and an inside look into the minds of artists who have helped shape the lives of thousands, millions.

This certain piece takes a look at George Orwell’s mindset as a writer and how he developed his writings to become part of Americana, even if that’s how he never envisioned it in the first place. (“1984” is one of the most grand works I have ever read.)

Where Orwell saw writing as an insane practice, Ray Bradbury looked at the process from the different side of the coin. Here are their thoughts in their own words, because honestly, who would have it any other way?

ORWELL:

Looking back through the last page or two, I see that I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don’t want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a POLITICAL purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

BRADBURY:

Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ‘Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…’, you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.

As one can see, Bradbury’s words are quite clear and to the point: it’s not work if you love it. It reminds me of a saying I heard as a child, “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” We all know that is not necessarily true in regards to economics and finances, but the message is there. Orwell, on the other hand, offers a dystopian viewpoint akin to novels he himself wrote, such as “1984” and “Animal Farm.” He wants to bleed inside because he feels that is the only way to get his point across. Not that Bradbury doesn’t also bleed, but he embraces the oozing of his inner workings and how it all develops into a story that needs to be read.

I’ve always found art to present dichotomies in grand situations. When you compare The Beatles to Led Zeppelin, you look at the individual talents of each band mate and then see how the musicians all mesh together to create perfect harmonies. When you compare Van Gogh and Rembrandt, you might tend to choose the kind of art they specialize in rather than the type of artists they actually are. The same is true for writers: people have favorite writers for a reason, as some writers just have a better way of speaking to some than others.

I estimate that the goal of some writers is to reach out to everyone with an open hand and invite the masses. Or, maybe like Orwell, some writers prefer the marginalized audience that has more appreciation for the blood and sweat that went into the work to begin with.

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