Today’s quote comes to us from my friend, fellow VCFA alum and author of many, many picture books Kelly Bennett. Kelly reminds me a lot of my oldest sister. Bright, sunny, forthright and fiercely protective of people she loves and the wee hearts for whom she writes. It is a pleasure to welcome her here today.
“Thank you for asking me to take part in your Quotable Tuesdays. I love to read about other writers, their processes, their thoughts. I snip out quotes that touch me and save and return to them. My favorites are those that reconfirm that I’m not the only writer out there who doesn’t create “perfect” first drafts; and that I’m not the only writer who comes to work in spite of that feeling that I might not be good enough. For me, this quote from David Rakoff says it brilliantly. It comes from his essay “A Writer’s Day,” which was published in the Authors Guild Bulletin in 2011:
“Unlike cooking, for example, where largely edible, if raw ingredients are assembled, cut, heated, and otherwise manipulated into something both digestible and palatable, writing is closer to having to reverse-engineer a meal out of rotten food.”
“Rakoff shares how he procrastinates, justifies, stalls before settling in to write each day. How in most things, art, for example, one progresses, learns, becomes more adept and so the work gets easier. Conversely, says Rakoff,:
“Writing—I can only really speak to writing here—always, always only starts out as shit; an infant of monstrous aspect; bawling, ugly, terrible and it stays terrible for a long, long time (sometime forever).”
“Why does this inspire me? Even with the “terrors and agitations,” Rakoff pushes through—never forgetting for a moment that his is not a life of “mining coal, waiting tables, or answering someone’s phone for a living”— beginning each writing day “suffused with this sense of privilege, shell-pink and pulsing with new hope.” “We write because we must; but we also write because we can! What a gift!”
Brilliant, Kelly. Thank you. And thank you for bringing David Rakoff to this corner of the cyberverse.