“The better the writer, the easier it looks.”
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
I love these two quotes! Between them lies the place of tension where creation takes place. Think of any writer you adore. Do you remember that feeling of opening the pages of one of their books and being swept away on a wave of words? How effortlessly we readers enter the world that a gifted writer creates for us — and how much hard writing is involved in fashioning that world for our delight and discovery!
Consider the opening of that amazing, ever-fresh Gothic romance, Wuthering Heights: “1801 — I have just returned from a visit to my landlord — the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with. This certainly is a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist’s Heaven — and Mr. Healthcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow!”
How quietly and simply our brilliant Emily draws us into her dark and volcanic emotional world! We enter it through the eyes and sensibility of Mr. Lockwood, a naïve and self-satisfied observer who lulls us into complacency. What a shock we’re all in for!
What an artful, seductive beginning: Our clever author could have started her story in a storm on the heath or with those icy, ghostly fingers of Catherine rapping on the window. But she didn’t. Was crafting this misleadingly calm opening “hard writing” for Emily? There’s no way to know. But I have to believe that her smooth, enthralling prose is the culmination of many hours of patient and painstaking wordsmithing. Emily only wrote one book — ah, but what a glorious story!