Writing Is Hard

One of my old daily senryus showed up on the (far from meta) Book of Face the other day. Since I was desperately trying to finish a book review on deadline — that is, since I was both writing and finding ways to avoid writing — I shared it and noted that I needed to remember the point:

Actually writing,
regardless of quality,
is what keeps me sane.

It generated a lot of discussion. One person, who was also struggling to finish an essay, observed that writing is “the hardest thing in the world.”

That got me to thinking.

Writing is hard. There’s figuring out what you want to say and then there’s figuring out the best way to say it. Both those things can be daunting and difficult, and the more complex the project, the harder it gets.

Take my book review (which is safely finished) as an example. I loved Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort (get it on January 11 when it comes out), so what I wanted to tell people was why I thought it was a good book.

That’s actually hard enough for me, because a lot of my response to what I read — even when I’m reading a book addressing the shortcomings of the U.S. Constitution — is a gut reaction. And if the book is funny — and in this case, the author is very good at being funny even when he’s writing about outrages — I’m too busy laughing to think about the details.

Which is why I put sticky notes all over books I’m going to review. I don’t label them; I just stick them there and then I go back to those (many) pages. That helps me figure out what I want to say when I tell people why they should read this book.

Then I had to figure out how to say it. This review was for a lawyer publication, and while that means I could say “equal protection” or “establishment clause” without explanation, it also meant I needed to make sure my points in favor of the book would pass muster with lawyers.

Lawyers are inclined to argue with things. If you want them to listen, you must at least make it clear that what you said is worth arguing about. Or, in the case of my book review, that what the author said is good legal analysis.

This is, as the person on my FB page commented, hard work. Continue reading “Writing Is Hard”