Editor’s Notebook: Oh, Lust. Come here.
We have arrived, Writer Friends, at the sin that mostly doesn’t feel like sin at all: Lust.
What can we possibly mean by Lustful writing? A Lustful writing life? Suzanne is delighted to consider the possibilities in this next installment in our essay series, 7 Sins of the Writing Life: Lust.
Some of her writing friends are happy to explore the concept, too. As part of this project, Cheryl and Suzanne generated questions exploring each sin; they asked themselves these questions, then posed them to other writers. Each essay is informed by the collection of responses, and quotes some of them. As a result, the series makes space for a kind of guided conversation.
Well, the more the merrier. As we leap into 2023, why not hear from one of our Waterwheel Review writers on these same questions? Hazelle Lerum’s “ballad of tribades / song of sodomites” appeared in Issue #2, October 2020. I asked her the questions about writing-related Lust that Suzanne put to her writer friends ten years ago, and she was kind enough to share her thoughts:
Do you ever burn to write but can’t?
Creative nonfiction and essay writers, those whose poetry errs on the side of the confessional: we all know the pain of wanting to make something beautiful out of an experience, but sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes you just have to confide in your notebook and bide your time.
Do you ever intellectually know you need to write and sit down to do it, even without the burn?
Sticking to a daily freewrite habit has helped teach me to overcome that procrastinatey/‘waiting-for-inspiration’ impulse, because it’s taught me that writing, especially when I don’t feel like it, often has the handsomest results.
One of the things I do to try and combat an insufficient desire to write is to add a level of sensuality to my rituals. A candle with a curious design. Coffee and bubblegum (the bitter washing over bites of sweet is wonderfully stimulating in the morning, and relieves a sore jaw for a chronic teeth-grinder like me). Sometimes, if I need to finish a project, I’ll give a friend a valued object to hold as collateral until the project is complete. This enables a bit of power-play between me and the friend, and is also how some of my trinkets have summered in Seoul while I yet have not.
Do you ever desire to crack an inner ring of “true writers” but fear that you can’t because you hold a job, raise a family, watch television and movies, etc?
The internet has done an excellent job of puncturing the myth that there are such things as ‘true writers.’ If I read a great book, I can Google the author and find their day job. It’s like the more uplifting version of looking up your high school friends on LinkedIn.
Has Lust for other things ever hindered your writing life?
I once wrote an 80,000-word novel (single-draft, solidly in the trunk) about crows in the posthuman apocalypse. Microsoft Word tells me I spent almost a couple hundred hours toiling in that document. But in that same year, I spent nearly double the time playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection (a popular alien-bashing saga). While a part of me longs to be a super-soldier with a heroic shot and a great body, the rewards of this planet prove to be much richer, so I’m planning on reducing my time spent in the virtual realm.
Have you ever Lusted for other writers? For their work? For a writing environment?
It’s easy to quote Dead Poets Society here: “Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women.” It’s true! I have an entire trunk novel I wrote just to impress one writer I dated in college. It was just as romantic as you could imagine: stealing kisses in the library, going to poetry readings together. Infatuation provides ample motivation, so long as you don’t find your writing energy diverted.
Many thanks to Hazelle for adding another layer to our essay on Lust.
Next stop: Gluttony.
May you indulge and enjoy all writing sins forevermore. And may you write well today.