David Gordon

Sometimes quiet, dense writing is the most deeply and complexly honest. Sometimes intellectual discourse is brave in our Twitter culture. Genuine and sincere emotion can be risky in a world of snark and irony. So can making silly jokes about matters our society regards with sanctimonious seriousness. Sometimes it is just a matter of a writer doing what she does not yet know how to do, speaking about something he does not yet understand.

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  1. shinichi Post author

    Writing Is a Risky, Humiliating Endeavor

    by David Gordon

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/writing-is-a-risky-humiliating-endeavor/

    Life, in other words, is unpredictable, sometimes even risky. And inner life — the realm of emotions, memories, dreams and unconscious urges — is not much better. But if we were totally aware of this, then going to the grocery store would be impossible, so we keep that stuff out of mind while we go about our days. Writing involves thinking all the unthinkable stuff while still taking care of business.

    Writing then, must feel risky in order to feel like life. I used to cringe when people talked about “brave” writing. I’d think, calm down, it’s not like you’re a fireman or a Special Forces commando. If the mission fails, just toss it in the wastebasket. But I do think, upon reflection, that there is a need to generate emotional risk, a sense of imminence, of danger, in order to transmit that aliveness to the page. This needn’t mean personal revelation or offensive language. Sometimes quiet, dense writing is the most deeply and complexly honest. Sometimes intellectual discourse is brave in our Twitter culture. Genuine and sincere emotion can be risky in a world of snark and irony. So can making silly jokes about matters our society regards with sanctimonious seriousness. Sometimes it is just a matter of a writer doing what she does not yet know how to do, speaking about something he does not yet understand. The risk of ambitious failure.

    That’s why I decided to write this essay. Because, of all the topics that crossed my mind, it was the one that made me squirm. Because, when I told that same writer-friend, the one who hates being talked about, that my ex-wife had unfriended me, and I said, “I suppose it’s like getting a one-star review,” she wisely replied: “Or a five.”

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