“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
― Stephen King
No offense to Mr. King, but I’d like to humbly offer my own counter-saying: If you want to up and quit writing in utter despair, keep on reading, sucker.
I hate to admit it, but sometimes it feels like the more widely I read, the more depressed I get, knowing what I WON’T ever achieve with my writing. Take this paragraph from the New York Times’ columnist Sam Anderson:
“No event fractures us into contradiction more completely than death. It is beyond rational response, inscrutable on every scale — from the death of a moth to the death of a pet to the death of a year to the death of a sibling. We curse and celebrate, resist and accept, look backward and forward at once.”
–from New Sentences: From Richard Lloyd Parry’s ‘Ghosts of the Tsunami’. New York Times Magazine.
I mean, come on! That’s just filthy gooood. And that was just a run-of-the-mill Sunday for that guy.
I suppose reading a lot to steal a lot might keep one going for awhile. And I do particularly love the structure of Mr. Anderson‘s first line:
No event Transitive Verb into Noun/state more Adverb than Event.
No event frenzies us into exhaustion more dependably than finishing the GD Christmas shopping.
No event hurls us into satisfaction more successfully than orgasm.
No event divides us into competition more swiftly than a family potluck.
No event pounds us into humble submission more thoroughly than parenting.
Yeah. I’d say that’s a step up from my usual profoundly expressed insights: “Damn, parenting is hard.” And “Christmas shopping sucks sometimes.”
Despite the discouragement, I somehow find the courage to write (and read) on. I suppose I’ve found over time that no event beckons us into delirium more insistently than writing…