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The Agony Of Not Writing

April 06, 2016

As a kid in school, writing caused me great discomfort. Now, as an adult, NOT writing does.

Sure, I can usually make it two or three days without working on a novel or a blog post or a suicide note, but after that I absolutely MUST write. Or pop some OxyContin. Preferably both.
 
I totally get what Franz Kafka meant when he famously said, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” (Granted, he was being a little dramatic, but what do you expect from a man whose most famous story is about a guy who turns into a giant insect during an existential crisis?) Even when I’m on vacation in paradise with my beautiful wife, I need to scratch out a page here and there to keep the crazy away. Too much sun and surf and relaxation terrifies me.
 
So why is that? What exactly is it that compels me and many others to write… and novels, no less? I’d like to think it’s because I’m a passionate artist. But according to George Orwell, it’s because I’m a masochistic psychopath:
 
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.“
 
So, if Kafka’s correct, I’ll go crazy if I don’t write. But if Orwell’s correct, I’m crazy if I DO write.  
 
But the REALLY crazy thing is, they’re both right.
 
So the next time an author tells you they write for the pure joy of it, call bullsh*t.
Tell them you know about the monsters and the demons.
 
Tell them you know about the Kafka/Orwell paradox.
 
Tell them you know the pain of writing a book is exceeded only by the agony of leaving the pages blank.

 

 

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