Quite often, the hardest part about writing something isn’t the writing itself, but reading it after. Despite the effort and enthusiasm that went into it, it may feel not quite what we hoped it would be.
You often read or hear about how some great writer or other rewrote a scene or chapter countless times, and still wasn’t entirely happy with the published version.
Writing, as with most things in life, doesn’t usually come out like we like. The writing of ideas or scenes that we do in our head is quite another matter from the writing on the page. Sometimes the writing on the page is uplifting and inspiring — it may make us laugh or cry or feel good about ourselves. But quite often, it seems only a fragment chipped off from something greater that happened inside of us.
What do we do then? Do we crumpsle the paper and throw it away? Do we delete the document? Language is but one dimension of the multi-faceted experience that is life. It is limiting. If there’s freedom in writing, it is only in accepting its limitations.
Writing isn’t butterfly-catching. Or at least writing prose isn’t. It’s more like pottery, a steady, focused work, that calls for the right tools and materials, and above all, for the patience to make mistakes and keep on laboring undaunted. No word is wasted, because every bit of effort helps to wire the brain and the hands for writing.
There’s no promise that with experience or enthusiasm we’ll achieve greatness, but then why would we need such a promise? Billions of people write every day. Some of them are called writers, or like to call themselves so. They may nurture the hope of becoming authors one da. . They may write every day, stacking up manuscripts.
What drives them to write word after word is the writing itself, the synergy of mind and body that dives deep into the unconscious only to emerge again above the surface in moments of lucidity. Sometimes the words themselves build something greater than what the imagination conceived when it wrote the first word on paper. And those moments make the writing worth it, even when the only reader that will experience them is the reader in us.
With each piece of writing that we do not throw away or disparage, we become better, and a bit more confident. It then becomes easier to keep on writing and pile one word upon another, building an artwork that celebrates humanity, language, and the imagination.
There’s no promise that writing our days away will make us rich or famous. But satisfaction is guaranteed, and with that comes the peacefulness of the mind that knows it has freed itself from its fantasies and sins, its sorrows and its dreams.
What do you do with writing that doesn’t satiafy you? Do you throw it away? Archive it? Rewrite it?