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Erik Hare

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Member Since: Mar, 2007

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Blogs by Erik Hare

Wurst Writing
6/7/2007 10:11:31 PM
"Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made."

Otto von Bismark understood both well, being a German and a politician. What he could have included in this homily is writing.

I have had a terrible affliction lately. I cannot read anything because I find it all terribly inadequate. There is always a better way to say something, a better way to describe a mood or speak with a clear voice. Words alone are mere shadows, nothing more than blots of ink that blackly show where the light is not. I have the same problem with my own work as I do with everyone else's, so I do not see this as arrogance. But it is a problem with attitude.

I came across this illness honestly, as a natural result of teaching myself to edit. The first of the sniffling symptoms was a disdain for my use of clauses and phrases that run sentences on and on forever. I do it a lot. It grew into a mild migraine that made it impossible for me to edit a thing before a warming cup of tea. But that proved only a temporary solution.

Soon, I found that everyone's work has some similar tick or difficulty. I stopped reading entirely, convinced that language was a poor substitute for the subtlety of life. Newspapers somehow got a pass, since I have sympathy for writers with a tight deadline. But everyone else just sucked, myself included.

I tried to rationalize this as a Taoist view, since Lao Tzu teaches that language is only a representation of a thing no matter how hard we try. It works, but only so far. Language is also how we gregarious chimps keep ourselves sane.

Lately, I am trying out a new philosophy to see if it takes hold. Let's just say that you are a gourmet chef, and enjoy cooking and preparing the finest foods you can. Does that mean you can never have a hot dog at the ballpark? That would be a terrible loss, since food is more than something you must consume it takes meaning from its context, and the pleasure is often in the moment. Writing is like that as well. We have to have it in order to survive, so it is important to overlook the inadequacies and savor the moment it comes to us.

So I have come to see writing more like sausages. Think of it as a wurst-case scenario. We have to eat, and we have to communicate. These are things our species is wired to need. What makes any of it special is the moment where it comes together. Try not to think about the bits and pieces that went into it being made.

With that thought, I'll give the ol' spitzhaube von Bismark the last word. He wasn't always down on his chosen profession, and sometimes even learned to revel in the moments that led to the creation of laws, and perhaps sausages. I think it applies to writing, too:

"Politics is the art of the possible."


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More Blogs by Erik Hare
• Let the Real Games Begin - Sunday, August 24, 2008
• Soul Mate - Friday, August 22, 2008
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• Generations: Re-Invention - Sunday, August 03, 2008
• Happy as a Pig. Just a Pig. - Friday, August 01, 2008
• The D Word - Tuesday, July 29, 2008
• Writing Bubble - Monday, July 28, 2008
• Munchie - Friday, July 25, 2008
• Ode an die Freude - Wednesday, July 23, 2008
• Citizen Journalism - Monday, July 21, 2008
• Truth of the Cottonwoods - Monday, July 21, 2008
• Barking at the 'Net - Saturday, July 19, 2008
• Brasilian Way - Thursday, July 17, 2008
• Leadership - Tuesday, July 15, 2008
• No Safe Harbor - Sunday, July 13, 2008
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