This excerpt is from a ruminative and sparkling post by writer and teacher Alexander Chee on today’s Koreanish:
Part of what is interesting to me about writing is how writing is a social act—a performance for others, a way to connect that has not one guarantee to it. You write and you don’t know that anyone will ever read it or care. You have to proceed in line after line, like someone descending a stairway towards an unknown space below and past an unknown number of stairs also. It may even be an eternal descent until death. You don’t know how much you’ll have to write before you begin to connect to others—that is the crisis of the student writer, for example, but all writers, I think, recognize that crisis as simply a student writer’s introduction to the idea that they could write for their whole lives and never succeed, and they won’t know, even if they write.
You are basically asking them to walk into the dark and trust that they’ll meet someone there. Someone to whom they’ll entrust all of this work. Most of the time you never say this to them because it is a terrible thing to encounter and everyone makes their own peace with it.