Easy Reading

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

I saw this quote on Tumblr today and I think it’s true. If there’s a book you really enjoy and reading it is a breeze and a pleasure, chances are, the author must have really worked to perfect it and edit it into the great book it is today.

The reverse of the quote “hard reading is easy writing” might prove true as well. If we have an easy time just scribbling something out, it may be hard for a reader to understand, due to grammatical errors, plotholes, and other kinds of mistakes.

Writing, like other kinds of art, is supposed to be hard. When people who don’t write read a finished book, especially if it’s a really good book, they tend to think that it was easy for the author to write and the words just flowed onto the page. That’s not the case. Writers have a very difficult job of making sure the story that looks so good in their heads translates well onto paper so that others can understand and enjoy it.

I think the lesson to be learned from this quote is to appreciate the hard work your favorite authors put into the books you find joy in reading. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Easy Reading

  1. In most cases, I think this is true, but there are exceptions. Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries, sat down once a year and wrote a book, from beginning to end, no editing, and then did what he wanted for the rest of the year. Most of the books are good and some of them are great. Oh, well. Picasso could pick up a pen or a brush in the middle of breakfast and draw three or four strokes on a blank piece of paper and it would be great.

    I always think the lesson is not to take it easy. The lesson I always tell myself is, “You’re not Picasso. _You_ need to work hard.” 🙂

    Unfortunately, the opposite is definitely not true. Good books mostly reflect hard work, but hard work does not always produce a good book.


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