In Desiderata, the author tells us to avoid comparing ourselves with others as it will leave us either vain or bitter – there will always be those greater and lesser than ourselves.
How right, how true. Especially when it comes to writing.
Sometimes I wander through a bookstore or see what books are being launched every week and am humbled, defeated by all those wonderful stories out there that others are telling much better than I ever could. My writing seems unnecessary except to me, unimportant, wasteful of time and resources. My friends, when they see me in despair, say “why are you doing this, anyway?”, and then there’s always Dorothy Parker and her advice to tell budding writers to give it up while they are still happy.
I become bitter by turns, think hateful thoughts about successful authors, grumble to myself.
And then I read some stories and can feel glee and schadenfreude creeping over me.
“Oh, this is perfectly horrid,” I think. ” I KNOW I write better than THIS!”
Suddenly I feel inspired, right to write, even feel I must write if only to help repair the damage done to literature by these sloppy attempts.
I sway between these points, always awash in despair or joy. Madness.
But can I share a pet peeve?
I am so so tired of people thinking that merely putting things down on paper is writing. That it requires no practice or training or editing or research or even (gasp) reading.
Sure, there’s such thing as inspiration. I have that a lot. It’s easy to come up with little ditties.
Putting together a coherent story?
Well, that takes practice and damn hard work.
I am agog with admiration at those who succeed at this. And frustrated beyond belief by people who throw a few words down on a plate like a pile of spaghetti and think they are on the same level.
Not that I haven’t done some of that myself, mind you. I apologize to all of you out there who have had to read my messes. You have my sympathy.
But hey, for a moment, didn’t you think, even to yourself, how happy you were about your writing, in contrast to mine?