A Writer’s Labor Day

Writing is a labor.

It won’t usually break your back or make you perspire. There is generally no threat to your life or limb when you write, nor is there much need to lift 50 pounds at a time when you do it.

In most cases you don’t get dirty, have to travel long distances or get accredited or certified in order to write.

Yet make no mistake; writing is labor. Let nobody tell you otherwise.

Whether it be fiction or non-fiction, it is not always easy to delve into your own mind for hours at a time, day in and day out. Yes, there is fantasizing and brainstorming within the writing process for most people, but any true writer knows that to get anywhere, one cannot remain forever in those stages. One must actually commit words to paper or screen. One must wrestle with concepts, stories, settings, instructions, pleas and so on and confine them to a (usually) limited amount of words. Those words must be strung together in a fashion that is not only coherent from a grammatical standpoint but effective for the audience for which they are written. So the audience must also be taken into account. (Even if one writes first to please ones self, an audience eventually exists for most things we write.)

Even once all of that is done, we need to correct it. Make it smaller, make it faster or better or prettier, or less pretty, or break it into bullet points, or consolidate into a sentence. We need to capitalize on our “voice” but not isolate ourselves from potential readers. And when all of that is done, some of us have to begin the process of researching other people that we think are most likely to roll the dice with our work. We have to convince someone else that what we have created or intend to create is going to in some way serve them as much as it serves us.

And we have to do so, in many cases, on a deadline. Even when we do not have an official deadline, we must always be moving forward with what we are writing. And few of us are ever writing just one single thing at a time, so multiply everything I just said by however many things are being worked on for any given writer on any given day.

Then we do it again the next day, or at the very best, two days later. But usually the next day. And the next and the next. At least if we want to have anything to show for our identity as a writer.

And after all of that, most of the time nobody reads our stuff anyway.

Writers don’t always merely stroll about in their imagination, taking in the view.  They mine it, and sort it out, and translate  it (often imperfectly) for other people. That takes energy and dedication, and sometimes we writers don’t have either. It can be an exhausting process to summon them up when they elude us. It can drain us and make us feel flat to the world for a while, just like many other jobs and callings.

In short, as I said, writing is labor. I may not die from it, but it is work for me, even when I enjoy it. (And I do.) Remember that today when you read something.

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