Writing vs. War

Question: Which is harder, writing or soldiering?

Jason Christopher Hartley: Writing is definitely harder. I mean soldiering is great. I mean soldiering is wonderful because it’s sort of -- for me, it’s the easiest thing you’ll ever do because the hardest thing is enlisting. Once you’re in, then it’s like you’re on a rollercoaster. There is nothing more you have to do. You just have to do what you’re told. And sometimes it’s really nice to like know, OK, here is what I’m doing. I’m going to wake up here. I’m going to go do this and then I’m going to come back. There is no homework. I don’t have to worry about it after work. I’m done, then I can go like watch DVDs and play video games and do it again the next day. It’s an incredibly addictive way to live, for me no better way of putting it. It’s nice. It’s nice to not have to kind of like think about certain things and just be the person who suffers, and it’s cold and you’re freezing your balls off and then this and that, and then something fun happens and you do it again and you just kind of… You know, the cycle continues.

Writing requires for me so much more because I have to think. I have to worry about what am I writing. I have to spend time doing research perhaps and then of course there’s like an amazing suffocating amount of self-doubt. Should I be writing this [“Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq”]? Then there’s all kinds of anxiety about the writing and… It’s, you know, yeah, so writing, as enjoyable as it can be at times and incredibly rewarding, definitely a lot harder than soldiering, frankly.

An Iraq veteran explains why the pen is more challenging than the sword.

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