N. Nuechterlein: You Just Have to Write

When I was eight I thought authors were rich. I couldn’t imagine restaurants and gas stations making money, the way they had to buy the things they sold. But authors, they wrote on paper and paper was free. I learned sometime in the ten ensuing years that paper isn’t free and that writing isn’t always best described as the act of accumulating money. As the trouble I had as an eight year old arranging letters within words evolved into a struggle of piecing words together into sentences and sentences into stories, I learned that sometimes writing works and sometimes it doesn’t. I learned that you can spend a year on a piece and end up with nothing more than a hundred drafts that are as incoherent and disorienting as the first. I learned that in two hours you can fix a year’s worth of frustration with a period here, a period there, and the kind of honesty in revision that hurts. I learned that writing is a long term relationship, that once the initial excitement has settled down, you begin to understand you won’t always like what you’ve created. I learned that when things don’t work out it can be awfully tempting to quit. I learned that writing is a balance between self-consciousness and self-awareness, that perspective is something that comes and goes, that when my head is screwed on correctly I can look at writing as a motion and not a talent, that then I can see that you don’t have to write well to be a writer – you just have to write.


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