Sometimes when I wander over to writers' blogs where they're talking about writing a novel in a week or how many words they write a day, I wonder about a couple of things, especially with NaNoWriMo and its children coming up in November:
1. Who's reading those words?
2. Are those words worth reading?
If you're Margaret Atwood, writing 2000 words a day of Margaret Atwood-level prose is one thing. Same is true for Joyce Carol Oates or Anthony Grafton. But what about mere mortals like poor toiling academics?
I wonder this about academic writing when people tell about the many words they write in a day or promote their writing zealously on Twitter. Sometimes those posts or articles are worth it, but only about 1/10 of the links that I've followed say anything genuinely new. Some books look totally worth it (like Rees's Refrigeration Nation) but others--maybe not.
Maybe that says more about the links that I've been enticed to follow than the quality of what's out there being promoted. Maybe, too, it taps into a Calvinist distrust of "getting above yourself" like the one that Atwood and Alice Munro have talked about--that what's being advertised so heavily can't be good.
But as I slog my way toward inspiration and a completed manuscript, eking out words, I think of Richard Brinsley Sheridan:
You write with ease, to show your breeding;
But easy writing's vile hard reading.