One thing my creative writer has said numerous times is this quote by Swiss health economist and author Gerhard Kocher: “War is the father of all things.”
Also, one of his own quotes (I believe) derived from it. I’m afraid I can’t remember the correct wording, but it is something along the lines of: “writing is war.”
Writing is war, I can truly believe that from my own experiences with it over the past 8 years. It also happens to be a war with multiple fronts that an author must fight simultaneously.
The first (and most obvious) front, is the one with the page. Writing isn’t simple, it’s not just sitting down and typing… well, it is, but it is so much more than that, too. Or, rather, it is far more difficult.
Words don’t always come right out onto the page as willy nilly as a breath escapes our lungs. Finding a word, the right word, takes time, and effort. As Robert Frost said: “I never knew what was meant by choice of words. It was one word or none.”
We need to search through our own minds, our dictionaries, to find the right word for the right situation. The one word that fills the the hole completely without anything extra left behind. The perfect fit. It’s not easy, it takes time, effort, and lots of (re)writing.
The second front is the one with time. As a full time university student in his third year (with a job, now, by the way), I don’t think I really need to tell you that my time is taken by many different obligations, duties, and personal pass times. So, days like today (where I was on campus for 12 hours) how do I find time to write? Well, I haven’t, really… I’m, personally, losing this front, badly.
But, that’s part of the point. With all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we still need to find the time to write. It’s not easy, but then again, anything worth doing isn’t easy.
The final, and most important, front is the home front. In war, sometimes you have to fight various aspects on the home front. In wars between countries, this includes rationing gasoline for use by the troops, or fighting for support of a war that the populace doesn’t want to be in.
In writing, the biggest, and worst, manifestation of the home front is the inner critic.
This is the little voice inside your head that speaks nonsense about how bad your writing is, and throws other insults into your face while your down that doesn’t have anything to do with your writing.
The harsh, wild critic is hard to break. He creeps behind every word, lives beneath every sentence, and has friends he invites over for drinks in your story.
This war is just like every other. To win, you need strong troops and high morale. You need to look at the big picture, see the small picture, plan ahead and live one day at a time. Sometimes, you win battles, other times you lose them. You must remember that when victory is in sight, defeat can come far easier. Success in one front can mean disaster in another. It’s not easy, and it’s definitely not pretty.
“I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine.
It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard
the shrieks and groans of the wounded
who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.
War is hell.”
From “On Killing” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman