The better we get at our writing, the less satisfied we are with what we write. Ergo: The better we are at writing, the less we actually, um, do it.
Further ergo: How do you spot a Supreme Master of Writing? Easy. S/he is the one…not writing.
Lovin’ the zen of it all:
by Sam McNerney
Writing this essay will be difficult. Before I draft the first sentence, I’ll spend hours searching for an idea. Most of what I read will be useless, not because it’s bad, but because it’s boring. Then, a passage will spark an insight that will bring me back to my computer, eager to share my idea, and finish this sentence.
Such is the creative process. It’s a constant tug-of-war between saying something fresh and meeting a deadline, originality versus practicality. We want to sound novel, but we know that true novelty is impossible, so we settle somewhere in between. And yet, even though our creative ideals might be unattainable, we’ll keep striving to bring them into reality.
In The Rise, Sarah Lewis terms the crevasse between work and vision The Gap. It’s what drove the poet Ezra Pound to burn his “failed” novels. On his deathbed, Franz Kafka wrote a letter to his friend Max Brod requesting that all of his unpublished material should remain unread and burned. (Brod ignored Kafka’s request and published three novels: Amerika, The Trial and The Castle.) Lewis quotes Czeslaw Milosz, who captures sentiment of The Gap nicely: “There is always the feeling that you didn’t unveil yourself enough. A book is finished and appears and I feel, Well, next time I will unveil myself. And when the next book appears, I have the same feeling.”