Sunday, December 26, 2004


Words of Advice to Writers from Tennessee Williams

Excerpt from

'The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams': The Productive Years

Published: December 26, 2004 in the New York Times book section.

"To understand how this was possible, you have to grasp two things about Williams: he was unshakably romantic about the importance of writing, of recording in lyrical language whatever he knew about the perversities of the human condition, and he was an intractably gallant and utterly fearless man. So, virtually every morning of his life -- no matter how hung over, how lacking in inspiration or how distracted he was -- he confronted his typewriter and wrote (or, often as not, rewrote). ''Bill Inge said to me, Tenn, don't you feel that you are blocked as a writer?'' he wrote in one letter. ''I told him that I had always been blocked as a writer but that my desire to write had always been so strong that it broke through the block.'' He also wrote, ''There are so many things I want to do, no end of them!'' It was only when something interfered with his daily chipping away at that vast agenda that he was truly miserable."


What a paragraph. Writing is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and doing it well. I know many of my friends are excellent writers, and a few are trying to make it more of a central part of their life. It should be said often that even very successful writers find it enormously difficult to finish a quality project. There is good news in there as well as bad. It's not going to get any easier, but at least you are in good company.

Anyone have a resolution out there for the new year that concerns writing? Speak up and share!

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