Is it humility? The sheer inability to be able to confidently say – “I’m a good writer?” Different than saying I can write. Because I know I can write, which is why I even bother trying in the first place. But in my experience, those writers who say – “I am a good writer, read what I wrote,” tend to be full of baloney. Bologna.
I think the best of us are rather plagued with the potential of writing poorly. Which is why we seek editors and writing classes and feedback. Which is why we’re always willing to change and grow.
This comes up, of course, because of recent experience. I’m working on a short story to submit for consideration to an Anthology. The only criteria I had was – submit something powerful. I knew I wanted to work on something new – it’s been a while since I’ve worked on a short piece and so, rather than edit something I already had, I wanted to create. But – thought powerful stories are inspiring, powerful itself, as a word, hardly does anything to immediately conjure up a plot.
So I thought, and thought, and thought and thought. And the deadline crept closer. And closer.
Friday night, the lightening struck. I was inspired by an article about a 14 year old prostitute who exchanged sex for a hamburger. My story really has not much to do with that actual article, but the article itself was enough of a shock to get the wheels turning. So I opened up a blank sheet and I got to typing, finishing my rough draft pretty quickly, over the course of an hour or two.
That’s when the anti-writer steps in. The confidence shattering devil sitting on my shoulder, effectively driving the creativity angel away. “What did I just do?” I ask. So I send it off to a trusted friend. I know she’ll give me good feedback – positive or negative, she’ll tell me exactly how it is. But it’s Friday night. And, though I know I can’t expect an immediate response, after having sent it off, I would put my life on the line just to get one. Just to know what she thinks RIGHT THEN. As can be expected, I spent the next four hours refreshing my e-mail on both the computer and on my phone.
OH GOD, MY FRIEND IS GOING TO HATE IT.
THAT WAS THE WORST PIECE OF GARBAGE YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN.
WHY DID I EVEN SHOW HER?
SHE’S GOING TO LAUGH AT WHAT A TERRIBLE WRITER I’VE BECOME.
GOD, I COULD HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB EIGHT YEARS AGO.
YOU SUCK AT WRITING!
WHY DO YOU EVEN BOTHER!?
I’m not sure how I find the strength to battle these demons and continue on to write another day. But I do, and I’m always glad for it. Because, I know I can. And so I do.
How do you fight?