On Sucking at Writing

So, I have a link to share that I believe is making its way around the intertubes, something geared towards teenage writers.  I have two thoughts (well, two lines of thought), and they’re rather different.

First, though, the post.  It’s entitled:  10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing.  If you read it, make sure you read his attached piece, and please, read all points before responding.

For extra-bonus fun, though, read the comments, wherein a good many teenagers disagree with him and helpfully prove his point (there are many that thank him for the advice, for what it’s worth).  My amusement at the comments was my second point.

My first, and more relevant one, is about being a novice writer.  I’m not sure that I would consider myself young (Full Disclosure: I’m 27), though some would.  I do know that I am new to writing, certainly from a time perspective.  I penned my first short story (and dear god was it short) in college, around the start of 2005.  From then until November of 2009, I might have penned 50,000 words of original fiction, being very generous with my estimations.

It was something I did occasionally, but not a passion of mine.  In 2009, that changed (I thought I had an entry with my history as a writer, but apparently, I do not).  Since then, I have written something like 1.5 million words of original fiction, and you know what?  A lot of it sucks.  Okay, most of it probably sucks, and I am avoiding finding out just how much by not rereading it (yet).

Depending on which way you count it, I’ve been a writer for 8 or 4 years.  Not the full decade, by any means, and my hands-on education thus far has been too focused into the production of stories, and not enough into the revision of them.  I am definitely still a novice.

And that’s okay.

I think that’s what we forget sometimes, that when we start out with something new, we suck at it.  Depending on how hard it is, we may be terrible for a really, really long time.  That’s part of the learning process, and there is no shame in that.  I do not need to compare my books to NYT Bestsellers (partially because they have been edited, while mine have not) because I do not write as well as they do.

Writing is easy.  Writing a story is simple.  Writing well, or writing a good story, though, these are fantastically more difficult.  It’s about so much more than getting words down in a mostly reasonable order, and it’s taken me years to learn how much I don’t know.  I imagine that it will take me many more to actually learn all of that stuff.

But I plan to.  And I like that there are authors out there that are talking about this transitory period, when you are developing taste and expectations that you cannot live up to.  I like that they are saying that that is okay, because we don’t get to see the books we read in a similar state to the ones we write.  We don’t get to see the first draft of a big author’s first book from when he was sixteen, because it isn’t worth publishing.

But it is worth making.

Besides, however good I may be at writing now, however good I may get at writing in the future, whatever success it may or may not bring me, I enjoy it.  I enjoy the act of creation, and in writing, you create people and worlds, and then beam these thoughts directly into other people’s heads, sometimes decades later.  How cool is that?

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