You either write or live

This strikes me as a false dichotomy.

And a category error.

The sky is either blue or made of air. You either breath or you talk.

This is not to say I do not understand this sentiment. All work is work. Writing included. Things are what they are. But writing is living. At least for me. And, for that matter, for everyone else as well. This is because writing cannot be done if one is not alive.

And, a funny thing about writing, when you think about it–when you really get down on your hands and knees and take a good close look at it–is that it is something practically everyone knows how to do. It is possibly the most common endeavour a human being may undertake.

Compared to other forms of endeavour, even in the arts: painting, sculpture, the composition of music, even the performance of music written by others… Compared to these things, writing is effortless. Some of us are compelled to do it, no matter what other much more difficult things we are able to do; but still, although one might chafe to hear it articulated, it is the easiest among them. Easiest of them all. And when compared to other endeavours not entirely artistic, such as writing a well formed piece of software, building a bridge, designing a rocket engine that can achieve escape velocity, inventing and developing a new type of technology, or even developing a further and more abstract form of mathematics, it pales. By such things, it is eclipsed in every possible way.

But there are writers who stand out. Sometimes. It is, after all, hard work to become proficient at anything. And when one does what is necessary, one might number among the best, at least in the eyes of some–hopefully in the eyes that matter most to the writer himself. Still, when one has achieved this nadir, one is still merely the best of the worst–compared to every other, much more difficult endeavour. It does knock one down a peg or two to consider it.

But no matter how painful it is to realise one is, at most, the best of the worst, it can put life in perspective, and curiously, make ones writing better–and ones life–which is a good thing too. Because, one must be in the process of living in order to write at all, whether at the top of ones game–and therefore the best of the worst–or not.

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2 responses to “You either write or live

  1. “But no matter how painful it is to realise one is, at most, the best of the worst, it can put life in perspective, and curiously, make ones writing better–and ones life–which is a good thing too. Because, one must be in the process of living in order to write at all, whether at the top of ones game–and therefore the best of the worst–or not.”

    Simple words to create much reflection, esp the last paragraph. Thanks for sharing and giving me some new thoughts for the new year :)

    Like

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