word count: 233 reading time: 1-2 mins
Australian writer Shane Maloney said, “Watching someone write is about as interesting as watching a mime feed hay to an invisible horse.” That horse has hollow legs and it takes many long hours to satisfy its appetite. So what is the perfect answer to the inevitable question, “How’s the writing going?”
In a society geared toward immediate gratification, there is an expectation of measurable results after weeks, months, and even years cloistered with a computer. Yes I know that writing fiction is just making stuff up but really that’s the easy part. Fitting tangents of imagination into a flowing story is the hard work. How many people really care that a scene was laboriously revised five times before finally being deleted because it just didn’t work? That’s not what friends are asking. They want to know how soon they will have a copy of your bestseller in their hands. They don’t realize how much hay that horse craves.
Maybe it’s this inexplicable nature of the effort that led Robert Heinlein to say, “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”
How do you answer those questions about the state of your work-in-progress? Do you flip out your cell phone and mime astonishment at what’s on the screen? Oh look! It’s a message from the stable! My horse has run out of hay.