As I listened to the questioning of Amy Coney Barrett recently, Senator John Neely Kennedy was one of the few who asked her questions pertaining to the constitution, and interpreting. It got me to thinking, yet again, about how brilliant the constitution is and how hard the founding father’s worked to hammer it out at the constitutional convention. The process began long before the convention. The articles of Confederation were used as a constitution but were inadequate because it had no enforcement power. I won’t go into a long detailed post on the story, but what I am struck by is the process.
In order to create the Constitution, and even the Declaration of Independence, the articles of Confederation, and all the other early documents, they had a vision, not a unified one at first, but the vision was based on need. Things were floundering, it seemed as if it might meet and early demise if they did not act. They saw the need. It is said 55 men created the Constitution. There were others who influenced or contributed in various ways. The convention lasted around three months, summer months, that were dreadfully hot and stifling. Locked inside a building with so many people, no air conditioning, and their type of dress didn’t make it any easier. Even hotter where their debates that went on and on, day after day. When I watch congressional processes it can’t be daunting. I am sure it was more arduous at the Constitutional Convention in 1787.
The Constitution is not the same type of writing as in a novel or non-fiction book, but there are similar things we share. Vision. I kind of chuckle at NaNoWrimo, a national novel wriitng contest every November. You go in and cold write without stopping to edit. It’s a rough, rough draft. There isn’t a whole lot of vision or care put into it. It’s more of a writing exercise, which is fine. But if we want to write an entire novel worthy of being read and enjoyed, it has to be hammered out. You start with a vision and/or inspiration; usually a vague one. Some writers have a more detailed vision than others when they start. They may know how they want the story to begin and end, but will figure out the middle as they go along. Others only have a general idea. I wrote a story a couple of years ago called Searching for Gita, the Little Pearl. I went in with wanting to write a story based on an old woman in my neighborhood in Tacoma where I grew up who was from another country. She walked around the school looking in windows every day. That was my broad vision. I had no idea what the rest would be. I had no ending in mind but I had a beginning. I only wrote the rough draft and it was a hard story to craft, but I’m not a seasoned novel writer. But I have learned that writing anything needs first a vision, then a strategy, then apply the blood, sweat, and tears. Fortunately, I have air conditioning and don’t have to argue with a bunch of men or women with a gazillion temperaments, ideas, stages of knowledge. But dang, it can be arduous, painstaking, fraught with frustrations. Non-writing people have the idea that for writers the process is like “words were flowing out like endless rain in a paper cup” (Lennon/McCartney Across the Universe). They assume we sit down and the words come tumbling out effortlessly. Sometimes they do and it’s simply thrilling. But there is more labor than free flowing typically. Any document, article, essay, story, poem, even handbook, takes a lot of thought and effort. Research is part of the process sometimes. Even all my silly little humor pieces are a lot of work. Read up on famous authors and they will tell you how hard they work. And the editing and revision work can be intense and painful (cutting is especially painful.) It bothers me that people tend to think artistry (writing, music, visual arts) is not work, but a hobby. Tell that to Stephen King, or the late Harper Lee. I may never make a living writing, it may not be my bread and butter because I am in the last stretch in life span, but dang, it’s worth every drop of sweat if one person can enjoy it. Better yet, if they learn from it or find help from it. I consider entertainment and escape are essential to life as much as anything else. I love writing when it’s easy, and appreciate it when it’s hard. I leave you with a few quotes by writers on writing.
“A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window. ~ Burton Rascoe
” Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~ Joseph Heller
“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly: sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~ Thomas Mann
“Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.” ~ J.K. Rowling