I have never liked to suggest that writing is grinding, let alone brave work. H. L. Mencken used to say that any scribbler who found writing too arduous ought to take a week off to work on an assembly line, where he will discover what work is really like. The old boy, as they say, got that right. To be able to sit home and put words together in what one hopes are charming or otherwise striking sentences is, no matter how much tussle may be involved, lucky work, a privileged job. The only true grit connected with it ought to arrive when, thinking to complain about how hard it is to write, one is smart enough to shut up and silently grit one’s teeth.
When I am feeling all fagged out at the end of a day, I have to remind myself that I am not working down a coal mine. Writing can make one oddly tired, when one considers it is a job performed whilst sitting down. But still, Epstein is right.
Picture by Matthew Gilson.
Quote from the wonderful Advice to Writers.