I used to be a gusher, and now I’m an eker.

Allie recently dug up my old blog posts from KCSoil and she read a few to me. I was surprised by how voluble I was back then. Those were some long posts, and they came at a clip of several a day. At the time I was writing my blog I was also writing my book – a 500+ page work. I was like a writing machine. As you can tell by my posts here, that’s no longer the case. These days I’m doing good if I write more than one paragraph.

What happened? I don’t know, exactly.

I was listening today to a podcast interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates and he lamented that writing hasn’t gotten any easier the more he’s done it. Despite his many awards and successes he still finds writing to be hard work, as hard as it’s ever been.

He’s doing better than me. I find it harder.

What happened? I don’t know exactly. Maybe it’s because I wrote an award-winning book, got some good reviews, so I’m tougher on myself. Maybe because I went to grad school and there became entranced with the art of the sentence. Maybe because I got out of practice and I need to just force myself to get the writing machine rolling again (hence this blog).

This morning I went to Allie’s office and wrote for three hours. All I had at the end was 300+ words and three disconnected paragraphs. Granted, what I’m writing is inherently painful and challenging: a personal statement for my PhD application. It has to be short, dense with solid info, and coherent, despite synthesizing a wide range of ideas. But still. Ten years ago, I would’ve come up with three times as many words in three hours.

Pay heed, young writers. Don’t waste your time looking forward to easier times ahead. They ain’t comin’. But you’ll have to endure them, unless you want to pack it in.

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