Sunday, March 6, 2011

There's a Word for Everything

They say there is a word for everything.  Now I believe it.  Writers know that the most precious commodity they can possess, is persistence.  In fact, one of my favorite quotes that I used in the creative writing classes I taught was this:


Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not.  
Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  
Genius will not.  
Unrewarded  genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not.  
The world is full of educated derelicts. 
Persistence and determination alone will bring success. 
                                                - Calvin Coolidge 

In Stephen King's book On Writing, he says that for writers to be successful they need to apply liberal amounts of "bum glue."  In other words, a writer needs the discipline to stick his or her bum to a chair and write.  Write when you don't feel like it.  Write when you have nothing to say.  Write when you are not getting paid for it.  Write when you are not inspired.  Write when you have other things to do.  Write when crummy celebrities achieve bestseller status by trading on their names instead of craft. Write when no one likes your work. Write when you are tired.  Write when the publishing industry is morphing into who knows what.   Just sit down and write. Regularly.

I receive the A Word a Day e-mail from Anu Garg's site,  Here is the link in case you'd like to receive them too:

This week we had a great word:  sitzfleisch.  It is a German word derived from sitzen, meaning to sit (I wonder if that is where sitz bath came from?) and fleisch, meaning flesh.  It means the ability the ability to sit through something boring or to persist in a task.  Leave it to German engineering to come up with a word for "bum glue"!

Whether you call it persistence, bum glue or sitzfleisch or whether you are a writer or not, everyone can use some sitzfleisch in their lives.   So let's all break out a tube of sitzfleisch and apply liberally so you can achieve your dreams, whatever they may be.  I just hope Andrew Sullivan doesn't get hold of it--infomercials for Sitzfleisch would be too far over the edge.

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