Here Lies a Writer — A to Z 2014

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A grave marker in a boneyard somewhere in the Tennessee mountains bears this engraving:

HERE LIES A WRITER… AS USUAL.

That very telling and all-too-common characterization is my favorite observation about writers. The truest quote I’ve heard attributed to a writer (don’t ask me who said it first) is this: “I hate writing—but I love having written.”

Therein resides the sum total of all obstacles to this craft—the writer’s own procrastination. Writer’s Block is a myth, an excuse bandied about by those who refuse to sit and do the work. You knock out the pages and you fix it later but you never, never, never stop writing. If you stop then you’re not a writer; you’re a slack jaw, an air biter, a bush-league bench warming bystander. In short, you’re a quitter. It ain’t tactful, what I’m saying here, and it sure ain’t kind. But it’s truthful and writers need a steady diet of truth.

It’s true that a writing life is a hard life and every time I sit down by my solitary lonesome to knock out a few paragraphs of any substance it’s a monumental struggle to come up with words that mean something to me. Every first draft is less than empty and I lean heavily on my talent and training to see me through to the deadline. Yes, I have a bit of talent and it has frequently been remarked that talent is a gift. I’d like to state for the record that, although I grant natural ability to be something of a gift, to my way of thinking, talent is predominantly a muscle and like any muscle if you do not exercise it, it will atrophy. So I write every day, some days more than others. Using my muscles builds endurance and develops craft. When I finish a piece it’s not the result of a gift but rather the natural outcome of hard work.

Demanding of myself the regular output of essays is an exercise of endurance and creativity producing weekly posts and a good deal of knuckle cramping—just what I need to run my abilities through their paces. So, as regularly as I am able, I’ll be posting essays focusing on the human condition, which is my keenest area of interest.

“Here lies a writer” indeed. Lies—as in the telling of untruths, perhaps? Read into it what you will. As long as they’re well written lies, who’s to care?

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6 thoughts on “Here Lies a Writer — A to Z 2014

  1. Michael,

    I love your “inspired lunacy” phrase! That’s exactly what it is when you have lots of irons in the fire. I’m glad you’re participating again. I love your posts. I hope to sign up myself even though I have a lot on my plate this year. I’m trying to write my posts in advance so when I have the time to get on the net, I can read several blogs.

    Best,
    Sunni

  2. Love what you have to say here. I’m so in agreement with this. Never believed in writer’s block–just a poor excuse that would be better said by “I don’t wanna”.

    Good to see you back on the blog and especially back in the A to Z. You were a hit with all those who found you last year.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

    • Lovely to hear from you, Lee. Thank you kindly for your encouragement and kindness. I’m very much looking forward to diving into this year’s challenge.

      By the way, when I signed up this year I neglected to add (WR) after my sign up name. Is that something that can still be added to my Nouveau Scarecrow name on the sign up list? And if so, how?

      Cheers.

      • I wouldn’t worry about it. The classifications are primarily meant to label Adult Content blogs as a warning. We added the others so as not to make the AC folks feel they were not singled out. The labeling for non AC blogs is voluntary.

  3. ‘Inspired lunacy’ – I love it! You’re right Michael about this! I so enjoyed your post thank you. All so true. Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration –
    Glad you’re diving in!

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