Writing about trash tv or advertising is easy for me, it's all head and no heart. In my opinion, despite all the advice they give fledgling writers, it's hard to write what you know, or more accurately, who you know. In fact, it almost feels like an act of betrayal to leave the truth out there so naked. So open to criticism.
I always felt that great writing comes when authors can in one stroke be terribly cruel and overly-sensitive, revealing the best and worst of their natures through another person's story. For me, writing in such an honest way is incredibly intimidating. I have enough trouble dealing with self-scrutiny, let alone the judgement of others. I have yet to write anything that feels close to me. Lately, I've been in the habit of finding excerpts about writing from authors who have a far better capacity for baring all.
Here's some of my favorites.
I first read this one, in the introduction to a book of short stories. To this day, it makes me want to be a writer, and dread the very idea of a life committed to writing.
" I started writing, not knowing that I had chained myself to a noble but merciless master. When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended solely for self-flagellation...I'm here alone in my dark madness, all by myself with my deck of cards--- and, of course, the whip God gave me."
- Truman Capote
Currently, rereading Slouching toward Bethlehem. Joan Didion has an uncanny ability to seem hopelessly frail while gnawing at the bits. The last words from the introduction:
" I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out."
An excerpt from Elizabeth Costello, where her son remarks on the writing of his aging mother.
" ... she writes with an insight that shakes him. It is positively indecent. She shakes him; that is what she presumably does to other readers. That is why presumably in the larger picture, she exists."
And lastly. So simple. So true.
" There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."
- Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith
These small insights from the writers I admire, the writers who reach me, always inspire me, yet they make me feel terribly stunted and short, and so not there yet. It's so one of those days.