February 4, 2009 § 2 Comments
But all of them are vulnerable and all of them tense. They are driven by a compulsion to put some part of themselves on paper, and yet they don’t just write what comes naturally. They sit down to commit an act of literature, and the self who emerges on paper is far stiffer than the person who sat down to write. The problem is to find the real man or woman behind the tension.
–William Zinsser, On Writing Well
Several weeks ago, after an excellent dinner and a bottle of wine, R. and I talked about writing. It was the kind of conversation one tends to have only after drinking too much, and I for one was grateful for it.
In his book, Zinsser describes two types of writers: the kind for whom writing comes easily, and the kind, our kind, for whom it does not. When R. read the quoted passage aloud, I recognized myself in it instantly and was strangely relieved. I am a type, not a pathology.
So, it seems that my task is to find the woman behind the tension. If the knots in my shoulders are any indication, this could take a while.