Recently, within the last couple of weeks I guess, my old demons have hit me hard. It’s not anything banging in the closet seeking to come out, or any old addiction I might have had resurfacing again. I wish. For me, this is much worse than any of those.
The demons that keep haunting me revolve around this so-called talent of mine. I get paid to write (well, technically I do more editing than writing), it’s what I’m best at, and what I want to do with most of my spare time. Trouble is, my friends, I’m going through one of those phases where I doubt everything about this passion of mine. Well, I don’t doubt that it is a passion – I just doubt whether or not I can actually accomplish any of the goals I have set for myself. And when this is all you want to do, all you think you are good at, this is a very sobering and harsh reality.
To be a better writer, I must become a more rabid reader. And I read a lot. And I read these blog pages a lot. And on these pages I have stumbled across some of the best writing I have read. Perhaps technically, it would have an editor cringing, but I’ve never bothered with that stuff. The passion, the voice, the style and commitment to the craft is all wonderful. This is writing to me. I read this stuff and I question my own ability. This questioning is good for me though. It shows me I’ve got a lot to learn. It teaches me that behind all my pomp and circumstance, behind the giant walls of ego and self-announcement, I am still miles away from becoming a great writer. Do I think I can write? Yes I do. Do I think I can write well? No I don’t. I think I can tell a story, or craft a story, but I don’t think I write well. A simple look at any of the stuff I have ever submitted, whether it be to a teacher, an editor, or for a contest will reveal more red ink than I thought possible from one red pen.
That part doesn’t faze me though. I handle criticism well now. I didn’t always used to though. As I’ve matured, and I use that word loosely, I’ve learned that it isn’t a personal attack and it is meant to be help rather than hindrance. If I use the criticism or comments correctly I am sure to improve. Today though, as it has been for a few weeks now, I don’t feel like I’m going to improve and I’m wasting my time writing and your time reading. But it doesn’t deter from trying.
I think reading the blogs on this site has helped me the most. I try and see what works for someone else, what makes his or her piece of work stand out. Okay, I can’t help but compare it to mine and often feel alone in the shadows of mediocrity that I feel over my own work during these reading sessions; but I try to learn. I’m fine in the knowledge that most of what I read dwarfs anything I have ever written. EVER! There are countless people on here that help contribute to the wonderful mosaic of creativity and intelligence on this site. Sure, I have my moments, but I can’t help but feel in awe most days.
Now, I didn’t write this to have my ego fed. I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m just trying to jettison some of this weight that’s cramping me down. At the best of times, I think I’m a good writer with a hyper-active imagination. At the worst of times, like now, I think I’m an unseasoned hack who talks out of his hole. I’m betting I’m not the only one who feels this way either. I’ve been fortunate in my writing life so far. I was asked to write a non-fiction book and I did. Turned the project in a little over 3 months (4 months to go to print). I was paid, it sold in bookstores throughout Alberta (and on Amazon) and I even got to do a book signing. I, however, wouldn’t ask any of you to read the book. I’m more embarrassed than proud of the book to be honest with you. I think it shows my naivety and how unskilled I am as a writer.
I’m currently writing a third novel, the first two unpublished (although I did send one out to a publisher). I’m toying with the idea of self-publishing as I’m still learning this craft, still afraid of rejection letters, still afraid that I will find out that I’m just not meant to be a writer.
I didn’t come on this site to pimp my book, to generate sales from people with like ambitions. I have talked about it casually, as warranted, but it isn’t the focus of my time on this site; nor will it be. I’m not going to ask people, family, close friends or people I would like to call friends and meet one day, to go out and buy my book, any book. When it goes to print I’ll tell everyone (I’ll probably be happy) but I won’t be counting on you to drive up the numbers. That’s not why I’m here. That’s not why you’re here either. Besides, I’m having serious doubts about the quality of that book now. I like the story, the characters, and how it develops; I’m just not sure the writer is up-to-standard.