Writing is Hard

Writing is hard, they say, and I have to admit that’s true. Editing is easy, especially when you’re working with great material, and then it’s often downright sublime. But I talk with our contributors, and when they’re cranking out a story, they’re sweating bullets, whatever that means.

Writing is hard. You have to put yourself out there. Write only about the destination and what do you have? A Wikipedia entry. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wikipedia, but you have to put yourself and your own journey out there too without falling into the modern vice of oversharing. People have to know you well enough to see whether they might like the same vacation as you, and not too much more.

The whole thing is a lot easier if you have a great time. Then you just have to think back on what made it fun and what made it interesting. This time I know right off the bat what made my trip fun and interesting: it was a train trip across Canada.

Toronto, the international metropolis, Ottawa, the national capital, Montreal, a truly bilingual city, a bridge between the Old World and the New, and Quebec, a French city in a French province in the heart of North America — I had a fabulous time.

As I mentioned in previous entries, I think Canada’s commitment to being a bilingual nation, although it’s sure to lead to a lot more paperwork, is emblematic of the respect that her citizens show for one another. Mutual respect, for someone from the US, that’s darned interesting.

I spent a lot of time reading Canadian newspapers, and while there are a lot of people taking shots at one another, the evel of civil discourse is, well, civil, and people use their wits, and facts, and persuasion to make their case, rather than trying to shout the other person down.

But that’s not a theme I want to carry too far, because by the time the story is published, civil discourse in the US may be restored, and her legisators might begin to show the same commitment to the public good… Well it could happen!

I would rather focus on the attractions these cities offer to a passerby: first rate theater, opera, art and music, wonderful museums, great hotels, multi-ethnic neighborhoods, world fusion cuisine…

I scored three culinary firsts: first buffalo steaks, first pea-meal bacon sandwich, first smoked meat sandwich, and enjoyed the best meal of my life: tender buffalo steak strips with an egg on top with foie gras on top of that. Then scallops with bacon. As you can see, it’s not hard to punch my ticket.

I have a theory — and it’s only a theory — that there’s a way to make writing easy, and that if something is written easily it can be read easily, while something that has been worked over is harder to read. It has worked a few times, in my Elko story and my Second Life story, both of which were easy to write compared with the stories where I accumulated much too much detail and had to spend weeks sorting it all out.

And looking back on those two stories, they were both tremendous fun.