Butt In Chair

How to write: Butt in chair. Start each day anywhere. Let yourself do it badly. Just take one passage at a time. Get butt back in chair.—Anne Lamott


The problem with hanging around writers is that it makes me want to write. To be more accurate and, let’s face it, honest, it makes me want to have written. I envy writers who enjoy the act of writing. I don’t.

I’m a decent writer. At least I’ve been told that. Friends like my stuff. Other writers in writing groups have been mostly complimentary. Teachers have encouraged me. I always pulled “A’s” in writing classes. I’ve even gotten long, apologetic rejection letters. So what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I write more?

Because I hate it.

I do love having written, though. And that’s a problem. It’s like saying, “I love a clean house, but hate housework.” The difference is that I can pay someone to clean my house without feeling remorse or fearing repercussions. I can’t pay someone to write for me.

Well, I guess I could if I were a celebrity of some kind. Politicians don’t write their own stuff, after all. I’ve known writers who made decent livings ghost writing for others, but that’s not the kind of writing I want to have done.

I want to have written Huckleberry Finn and created characters like Lucas Davenport or Jack Reacher. I want that incomparable feeling of saying, “Wow. I wrote that.” Or more often, “Wow, I wrote that?”

I can walk into my house after the cleaners have left and think, “Wow, what a nice house I have.” I can’t put my name on someone else’s manuscript and get that “Wow” feeling, not even if I’ve paid them.

To get that feeling, I have to put my butt in the chair—and not just to play Free Cell. I have to put my butt in the chair and write. Then and only then will I have written. And that’s the part I hate.

Butt in the chair.


Well, crap.

* * *

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”—Robert A. Heinlein


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