Stop Whining

Garrison Keillor is tired of writers who whine about how hard it is to write:

It’s the
purest form of arrogance: Lest you don’t notice what a brilliant artist I am,
let me tell you how I agonize over my work. To which I say: Get a job. Try
teaching eighth-grade English, five classes a day, 35 kids in a class, from
September to June, and then tell us about suffering.

The fact
of the matter is that the people who struggle most with writing are drunks.
They get hammered at night and in the morning their heads are full of pain and
adverbs. Writing is hard for them, but so would golf be, or planting alfalfa,
or assembling parts in a factory.

biggest whiners are the writers who get prizes and fellowships for writing
stuff that’s painful to read, and so they accumulate long résumés
and few readers and wind up teaching in universities where they inflict their
gloomy pretensions on the young. Writers who write for a living don’t complain
about the difficulty of it. It does nothing for the reader to know you went
through 14 drafts of a book, so why mention it?

3 thoughts on “Stop Whining”

  1. Personally? I thik the whining is a pre-emptitive, instructive, and self-protective technique (ooh, multi-purpose whining. Nice!)
    If we didn’t bore people informing them that this stuff is actually WORK, who would believe us??
    Fact is we writers operate under a veil of “mystery”. At its best, that results in others respecting our outputs and efforts at least as much as the next professional’s (that usually works for novelists, methinks.) More often than not, the result is a secretly, seethingly resentful production staff; crew who think we really do just laugh and eat pizza in the room, swan in late, and stop working when we leave for the night; execs who give us notes from their hairdressers; and family/friends/strangers who assume they could do the exact same “job” if they just had the time to scribble a few things down.
    So, yeah. Umm. We’re a wee bit whiny and defensive, especially in TV or film, where we ARE paid crazy amounts for sometimes shitty work… and yet still wish that people would comprehend how life-swallowing and flop-sweat inducing even a CRAPPY show/flick can be to create under deadline pressures, meddling execs, and occasionally bratty casts. Yes, that’s undeniably selfish and petty & indulgent. Which is why I have a screensaver to remind me throughout the day what should be the true internal motto of scribes: “Shut Up And WRITE”…
    And I would, right now. Really I would. But I’ve been up till five a.m. working on this damn third act, and no one feels my sweet, sweet pain… ;-P

  2. Although I think Garrison might be on to something here, I can’t help but thinking that if anybody knew something about “gloomy pretentions,” it would be him. Obviously not a fan of Prairie Dog Conflagrations.

  3. I’ve always liked Garrison Keiler and now I know why! Man, he nailed whole legion of pretentious windbags and their little writing cliques. I grew up reading Gold Medals and wanting to be a pulp writer, modern variety. And I’m damned happy to be one.
    Ed Gorman


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