Thursday, March 31, 2011
I always find it funny when people express surprise at disciplined writers. I'll come across a sentence like this in an article somewhere: "I got my first lesson in writerly discipline that cold winter of 1975 when Tom Wolfe was staying at Pup-Pup's Vermont hunting lodge with us. He'd rise every morning at 9 am and write for a full five hours before buggering off with Mum for most of the afternoon, which they mostly spent quilting, I was told." It's utterly amazing to some that writers actually have to sit down to get their stuff on the page, and that they actually do it not only some days, not even most days, but almost EVERY day! This amazement is rarely expressed in relation to the other arts where, in my experience anyway, it is never supposed that Van Gogh just got up one morning and puked out some paintings, that Bach just sat down and farted out some symphonies. Hey, art! Wow! You never hear people say, "Gosh, that Rock Hudson was amazingly disciplined -- he went to set every single day!" I'm not sure why We Famous Writers get so many kudos just for doing our jobs. This would be like congratulating a regular person for, oh I don't know, paying their rent every single month. "Bob was amazing. Not once did he lie around in bed on a weekday morning drinking whiskey and beating his children instead of going to work. No, he showed up during all regularly scheduled hours. He didn't even piss away his paycheck at the track! No sir, he paid his bills with it -- he even bought food with it. Food he shared with his hungry children. The man was a.... I don't want to say genius, because what is that, anyway? But boy, he sure taught me a thing or two about discipline!"