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“I Hate to Write, but I Love Having Written”

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 21, 2020

I was surprised and a little bit gutted to learn that the quote “I hate to write, but I love having written” cannot be attributed to Dorothy Parker. According to the Quote Investigator, there’s no evidence Parker ever wrote or said anything like that. The earliest instance of such a phrase was from a letter written by novelist Frank Norris prior to his death in 1902 (when Parker would have been 8 or 9 years old).

I write with great difficulty, but have managed somehow to accomplish 40 short stories (all published in fugitive fashion) and five novels within the last three years, and a lot of special unsigned articles. Believe my forte is the novel. Don’t like to write, but like having written. Hate the effort of driving pen from line to line, work only three hours a day, but work every day.

God, I’m getting nauseous just picturing what an insufferably pedantic snot I’m going sound like the next time someone tries that “Parker” quote on me. “Well, actually…”

But! This was a great excuse to dive into the deep well of Parker’s wit. Some of my favorite quotes of hers:

“Too fucking busy, and vice versa.” is an instant classic, up there with E.B. White’s “I must decline, for secret reasons.”

Oh, and one other thing I’d never heard about Parker: when she died, she left her estate to Martin Luther King Jr., even though the two had never met. When King was assassinated, her estate passed to the NAACP.