Clive Matson writes from an itch in his body

Writing and Fun

October 26th, 2009 | Posted by clive in Uncategorized - (7 Comments)

102609“I’m having a lot of fun writing this,” said a beginner in Tuesday night workshop, thirty pages into a first novel.

The writer needs to meter out drama and character-building details in a smooth, believable, organic trance. This has to be complicated, and it cannot be an easy project. But what could be better than to have fun doing it? That would be a measure of one’s competence and ones’s daring. And more, a measure of belief in one’s competence.

People having fun as they write made me suspicious when I first started teaching, thirty-some years ago. How can you get to the energetic depths, if having fun is the overall tone? It fits intuition that there must be some unpleasant struggle somewhere, just as in life.

But another writer dispelled this prejudice, saying for that writer, writing is play. “Play like what children do: totally encompassing play.” Where the writing becomes the entire world and the entire world is one’s playground. One can map a lot of struggle, I understand from this, over into the child’s playground, and it won’t seem painful. “Deep pleasure in the writing,” said another writer, who added that a lot of practice goes into the pleasure. Lining up the vast creative unconscious in a harmonious way with that small part of us that recognizes pleasure.

Do you know the Robert Frost quote? “No tears for the writer, no tears in the reader.” It might also be true: “No fun for the writer, no fun for the reader.”

(With help from Sandy Olsen, Deborah Janke, and Jeff Karon.)