On golf, and writing

In a wonderful series where masters and their protégés talk about each other, the young golfer Henrietta Brockway says:

Golf is pretty addictive. You hit 20 bad shots, then you hit one good one. You want to hit that good one again and again so you just keep trying and trying and trying.

I think that’s true of writing as well. But here’s the problem: in golf, you know when you hit a bad shot, because it hits a bunker or goes into the woods or misses the green by a long way. In writing, it’s not so clear, and depends on an individual’s judgement. Some writers could think that every shot is a good shot, and fool themselves into easy satisfaction. Others could set their bar too high, and be forever scared to write because their definition of a good shot is one that Calvino or Kundera played, and no beginning writer can compete against those. I think the ones that make it minimise the self-delusion, but have the courage to persevere even when they are racked with self-doubt, as all good writers inevitably are at some point.

Needless to say, writing about writing is easier than the writing itself. Pah.