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Finding the flow of words

Finding the flow of words
Finding the flow of words
Dr. Wayne Willis

“Every day one should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting and — if at all possible — speak a few sensible words.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Red Smith, perhaps the greatest sportswriter ever, whose journalistic career spanned five decades, sometimes opened his daily column with these words: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Many people have told me over the years, “Someday I’m going to write a book. I’ve had an interesting life.” I always respond, “Start it! Now! Today!” The road to hell, as we heard growing up, is littered with good intentions.

Good writers, however, like Red Smith, caution that good writing is arduous, even excruciating, work.

Indiana’s Kurt Vonnegut: “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Annie Dillard: “The manuscript revealed the usual signs of struggle — bloodstains, teeth marks, gashes and burns.”

Tami Hoag: “It’s like 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I’m crawling out of my office. It’s a brutal experience.”

Edna Ferber: “Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth.”

Gustave Flaubert: “I spent the morning putting in a comma and the afternoon removing it.”

Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

May I be so bold as to add one more thing to Goethe’s list of what one should do every day: get a few pithy thoughts and tales off your chest. Write them down for the benefit of your offspring. Why deprive them of the best exhortations and wisdom of their great ancestor, yours truly?