Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If I keep writing, I should be better in five years.

Should I continue to write even if no one will ever read it?

I think I should. I may get good someday. I can keep trying. Maybe someone will discover me.

Besides, I think it's good for me, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually. I tend to sit around all day and do nothing meaningful if I'm not writing. There is nothing wrong with flexing my creative muscles. All I can do it try to get better.

I'm boxed in at the store. Nothing more I can do without throwing everything into chaos and danger, and at this point -- me being 59 and Linda being 63, I don't see the point of that. I think I need to play out the string. Keep it going. Not try to fix what isn't broken. It's earning us a living, after all these years, and I'm thankful.

But I also take lots of time off. And if I'm going to take lots of time off, I should try to write. I had some success once, and people may put it down, but it's more than they have accomplished.

What surprises me the most, is that I'm only marginally better than when I broke off writing. I may be a bit more mature in my approach, and I've had a few more life experiences, but essentially, my creative depth is about the same, my fictional skills are about the same.

Which actually, when I think about it, isn't all that surprising. I feel pretty much the same inside -- still feel 30 years old, which the same level of creativity.

So I need to pick up the learning curve again. And hope that I can improve dramatically if I do it full time for awhile. I learned an awful lot in the 10 years that I was trying to be a writer the first time. I can probably learn just as much in the next 10 years, if I apply myself.

The first book, actually, I flailed around for a few years, just learning basics, and even 4 years in, I was still going down wrong paths, and finally put together a reading copy about 5 years in. I was learning exponentially.

The next 5 years I also was learning, and making lots of missteps, but simply through the act of writing 6 more books, I learned some things.

In the last 25 years, I've only tinkered with writing. I've thought about what I would need to do the next time I tried to write.

But I'm still somewhat surprised that my skill level isn't much higher than before. My work habits are a bit better. But my creativity isn't that enhanced, nor is my basic fiction writing skill level.

Sure, I've written a blog for 6 years, but that it like having a conversation.

So the way I'm going to look at this is -- it isn't so important what my writing skill level is now. I'll do my best. But I have to hope that if I apply myself, I'll get better. So the question if, how much better can I be in 5 years? In 10 years?

I had to take those 25 years off from writing to make a living. Now I can go back to trying to be a writer.

I need to continue to write through the doubts. I remember when almost no one thought I could do it, finish a book, much less publish one. I kept forging ahead, with less evidence of potential than I have now. Sure, I was young and stupid and what I didn't know didn't hurt me -- but I'm more financially secure now and I'm still feeling the urge to create.

I still feel like I have an epic fantasy still inside me. What I'm writing nowadays is helping me prepare.


Anonymous said...


Writing good fiction is HARD, HARD HARD work, regardless of talent level. You ARE a good writer. Whether you're a good novelist or not is a separate question. If the creation itself (or what Tolkien would call sub-creation) is satisfying to you, you should do it. If not, not. That all sounds simpler than it is, I know.

Believe me, I know. I've been struggling with it for years. I know I have talent as a writer; not sure I have any talent as a fictioneer. Maybe I should stick to non-fiction. But I want...

Well, if you've got your heart set on it, you've gotta do it, whether or not you "succeed." Why die thinking "I wish..." or "I wonder if..."?

My biggest inhibition is fear that I won't or can't live up to my own standard of quality. I sense you have the same feelings or similar ones...

What can you do about that? The only thing you can do is say fuck it and go. Or quit. Ask yourself not which would make you happier, but which would make you miserable.


Duncan McGeary said...

I convinced myself for years that I didn't need to write.

But, I think that was rationalizing because, really, as long as I was struggling at the store, I couldn't write.

Anyway, the deciding factor to me is the internet and the knowledge that whatever I write will be in the world, at least to some extent.

H. Bruce Miller said...

As long as you enjoy writing, the writing is its own reward and you should keep doing it without worrying about whether it will be published. If it does and you make $100 million, all the better.

As for me, I'm burned out on writing.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Regardless of whether you've learned more about writing since you were 30, you must have learned a lot about life, and that can make your writing deeper and richer. In my ideal world nobody would be allowed to even attempt a novel until he/she was 40.

Duncan McGeary said...


I think one has to risk one's pride to get better.

Anonymous said...

"I think one has to risk one's pride to get better."

True in all areas. If I was afraid of looking like an ass in my karate practice, I'd never get anywhere...

And, usually, the risk is smaller in actuality than it appears.

The destruction of gatekeepers is liberating for artists — which is one of the points found in the Barry Eisler stuff I sent you. Our fate is in our own hands. And who knows what will strike a chord and "score." "Mom porn" (Fifty Shades of Grey)? Really? Guess so. Whoooda thunk it...


Anonymous said...

*high five*