My friend Ashley and I have a problem: we think we’re shit. Let me clarify, we think we’re shit, not the shit. Ah, the ol‘ “I suck at writing and will never make it bit.” It’s a classic, like missionary.
It’s rooted in fear, and while I can only guess at the source of Ashley’s fear, I can tell you exactly the cause of mine: I’m afraid that I’m not going to be good enough. It’s a legitimate concern. I’ve spent years learning how to be a writer. I don’t want that to go to waste. I don’t think the fear ever goes away. Even Stephen King admits that he wish he were better, and he’s Stephen “I Wrote The Goddamn Stand” King!
Now, I know that my biggest fear right now is getting the online novel off the ground. Every idea I’ve come up with just doesn’t seem to set and congeal, and it’s frustrating. I’m sure it’s the reason why I’m not sleeping lately.
Anyways, here are some points that I try to keep in mind when I’m feeling craptacular:
- No writer ever has a stellar lift-off. Ray Bradbury once said that if you keep your early work and look back on it years later, you see that it really is dreadful. Look at the early career of every great artist – every great author, actor, singer, painter, or sculptor – and you will find weeds of struggle think like a jungle.
- Never call yourself an “aspiring” writer. You’re in your “pre-published” phase. Some people might say you’re feeding off of delusions and euphemisms. So fucking what? If you can find a bottle or two of unicorn’s blood at an affordable price, have at it. Until then, you and I are “pre-published” writers.
- This point is largely geared towards myself: you have GOT to make yourself happy with your work. Yes, a writer ought to be happy with everything put to the page, but I think we need to go a bit further and have at least one project that, no matter where the career takes us, we can sit back and say, “I wrote that because some part of me needed it.” Even if you dedicate your book or poetry to someone else, that’s fine, but at the heart of it, you’re filling your own needs in some way. I love writing Frantic because I love zombie stories. I’m excited for this short story romance series because I have a heart and deserve to explore it. But the online novel? There’s something waiting for me there, something that can’t be touched by zombies or romance.