Think Your Writing Sucks? That Means You’re Good.

August 9, 2019

I have a 30,000 word novella sitting on an old, dead computer. I’m glad it’s there. It’s rotten milk mixed with piss-covered shit.

A 5,000-word draft in Medium I’m afraid to publish. It took me three weeks.

360 pages of stream-of-consciousness anxiety and bullshit from three months of “morning pages.”

You’ll never see any of it, because it sucks.

… and yet, that’s my only hope that I might actually be a good writer. At least one day.

Two of my favorite quotes on writing say so.

“The problem is that bad writers tend to have the self-confidence, while the good ones tend to have self-doubt. So the bad writers tend to go on and on writing crap and giving as many readings as possible to sparse audiences … the crowd is the gathering place of the weakest; true creation is a solitary act.” — Charles Bukowski

If Chuck says it, I believe it. Although I still can’t believe the chapter in Post Office where he delivers mail to a woman, rapes her, and never addresses the situation again. No consequences, not even remorse. As if it didn’t happen. I guess having a heart isn’t a prerequisite to good writing.

Ira Glass has a heart, by all accounts.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit … you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitious … You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” — Ira Glass

I know good writing. I just read Ask the Dust, Sirens of Titan, Lincoln in the Bardo. Yum. Just started If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Promising.

I just peeked at my first book. It’s … passable. My second? Mediocre. I feel an idea for number three coming. Not yet. Patience.

But by publishing this, I’m a step closer to leaving Sucksville.

How about you? Did you publish today, or did you hide? Yesterday, I hid.

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