Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Never Let 'Em See You Sweat!

Raise your hand if this is true for you:

Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Aside from the occasional creative spurts that flow easily from your brain, straight to your fingertips, writing can be a challenge. (And if it's not, then good for you - you may stop reading now. :-) For most of us, there's a process, a diligence, a self-discipline that's involved behind-the-scenes. There's work. Damn hard work.

I had a conversation with my aunt (a fellow book-lover) awhile back. I was talking about the intricacies of writing - show-don't-tell, characterization, setting, etc. And she paused and said, "I don't think of any of that stuff when I'm reading, especially if it's a good book."

And it struck me - the reader shouldn't see the activity behind the curtain. They shouldn't be aware of the "special effects," the brainstorming, the blood, sweat, and tears the writer has had to endure. The finished product should be "easy."

Just like when you go to a live play or musical and the players involved make it look seamless, flawless - the actors all know their lines, the music is in all the right keys. Sitting there, an audience member should never be aware of the hours upon hours of hard labor that went into that flawless performance. And if the audience is aware, then it's not flawless.

So, pour all that hard work into your writing. And know that it will eventually PAY OFF -- when the reader doesn't see it.


  1. So true. The worst thing when reading is to suddenly notice the words on the page. When words get in the way of story something's gone horribly wrong.

  2. I think what you said here pertains to any art form....whether writing, painting, woodworking,
    needlework, jewelry making, etc.....but those of us who have had any experience in the field already know the time, talent, 'revising', and
    'polishing' that goes into the finished product so we can truly appreciate the final result.