Ever? I mean do people have fun doing this? I'll admit to there being times when, ferinstance, I'll be in the shower and all of a sudden the perfect dialogue for a scene will bud in my head, and I stand there under the hot water zoning out till it seems to be, ya know, in full flower ... water dribbling down through my hair, fading the dye, pounding on my skull like it could actually knock the ideas loose. And twenty minutes later I'm wrapped in a robe with my hair sopping on my shoulders feeling like the computer should burst forth with booming chords of congratulations, because yes, hooray, I have done it, I have written The Perfect Scene and it pops and snaps with reality and familiarity and passion, and it's real, it's what I meant to say.
But then I back off from that, because "waiting for the muse" -- I mean, what else have I described? -- and waiting to be struck by the muse has nothing to do with my definition of being a writer, which is that writing is a job, it is a profession, and writers write, and even if it sucks and you feel like every word is being slowly hauled out of your guts on squeaky coal-mine train tracks, you are still Doing Your Job, following the next point in your outline, and unbeknownst to you, it may turn out that this plodding scene, on re-reading, is actually really good.
Here's why I create this snobbish distinction: Because I can't stand it when people act irresponsibly and then blame their artistic natures, as if good manners and great art are mutually exclusive. Pollack cheated on his wife and drank himself around a tree. Oh, but he made great canvases that ached with passion, so it's all right. It's not all right! You can't hurt people! You can ache with passion and still keep it in your fucking pants! When I've acted irresponsibly, it was because I was irresponsible, not because I'm a fucking writer. Those "guys who work in finance" are pricks too, and they don't make canvases that ache with anything, they make money. So? What's their excuse?
Here's what set me off tonight. I read my friend's new book, and it crackled with excitement. I could feel how much she loved writing it. She didn't have to tease out extra scenes to make it longer; hell, I had the feeling it was much longer, and she had to cut stuff. She inhabited her world in a way that I used to do and have not done in such a long time. My, that's a bit of truth-telling. It's a fact. I can barely remember what it felt like to write the best parts of my books, and even then, I had to be shoved back into my desk-chair by the encouraging words of my then-editor, who practically held my hand (a third hand, some invisible non-typing hand) the entire time.
What's wrong with me? Why do I fight writing on a good day, and utterly lose the ability to on a bad one? When I interviewed Eric Boghosian (do I sound likke Dick Cavett yet?), he said he had to "hate the book into existence." I knew exactly what he meant! And he's a good writer! So but... what is up with THAT?!
The easy answer is that like with any job, writing has good days and bad days. Ah, but I prefer to just assume I'm awful. That way I can keep myself away from the keyboard for one... more... day.