Hayden's Ferry Review


The Quiet Hell

Susanna Daniel has looked into my writer's soul and written about it in her essay, "What Took You So Long? The Quiet Hell of 10 Years of Novel Writing" at Slate.com. It's no fun to go through a "quiet hell," but it's a little bit easier when someone else acknowledges it. Three years after my MFA degree, I'm still painstakingly making my way through the second draft of my "novel." I still need to, apparently, put quotes around the word. When will I feel like a real writer? When will I ever finish this thing? When will my teaching and editing jobs stop taking up so much of my time? When will I stop making excuses and just get the thing done already?

Susanna Daniel has given me hope. Not only did she finally finish her novel Stiltsville, not only did she get it published, but I read an excerpt of it in One Story, and it's good. Like, really good. And now she's written this little gem:

"Writing is hard—writers say this all the time, and I think probably only other writers believe it. But it's not nearly as hard, in my experience, as not writing."

I'm going to put this up on my wall. Tattoo it somewhere noticeable. Make t-shirts. Cross-stitch it onto a nice wall hanging. You know, propagate it through any number of projects that will keep me from working on my novel. (Just kidding, I think!) If you're at all frustrated with a writing project, check out her essay. And then get back to work.