Before we set out as writers we imagine a life marlin fishing off our boat in Havana, or knocking out a leisurely sentence or two while swapping bon mots with French existentialists or just appearing on Oprah week after week so we can be reminded of how brilliant we are.
Reality, when it hits, is sobering.
But others have been there before us.
Here are 22 kinda funny, kinda painful reminders of what the writing life is really like.
Just remember: you are not alone.
- A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. ~G.K. Chesterton
2. He that uses many words for explaining any subject doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink. ~John Ray
3. Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out. ~Samuel Johnson.
4. Life can’t ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer’s lover until death – fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant. ~Edna Ferber.
5. Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted. ~Jules Renard.
6. The artist’s only responsibility is his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one…. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate: The “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies. ~William Faulkner.
7. An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere. ~Gustave Flaubert
8. It’s not plagiarism – I’m recycling words, as any good environmentally conscious writer would do. ~Uniek Swain
9. It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write. ~Sinclair Lewis
10. The land of literature is a fairy land to those who view it at a distance, but, like all other landscapes, the charm fades on a nearer approach, and the thorns and briars become visible. ~Washington Irving
11. The road to hell is paved with adverbs. ~Stephen King
12. Most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers. ~T.S. Eliot
13. An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners’ names. I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought. ~Mignon McLaughlin.
14. Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. ~Sholem Asch
15. A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one. ~Baltasar Gracián.
16. When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man. ~Blaise Pascal
17. It seems to me that the problem with diaries, and the reason that most of them are so boring, is that every day we vacillate between examining our hangnails and speculating on cosmic order. ~Ann Beattie.
18. A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. ~John K. Hutchens.
19. A critic can only review the book he has read, not the one which the writer wrote. ~Mignon McLaughlin.
20. Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow
21. A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy
And my personal favourite, because it works:
22. No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman. ~Van Wyck Brooks
Here is my form of schizophrenia. I’ve had it adverb proofed: