Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Writer's Blog... *sigh*

Pictured... 'The Process"

Hey writers, 

So, this is a writer's blog. This idea, in and of itself, is something I struggle with. It's a paradoxical thing.  On the one hand, I love reading other writer's blogs; they offer insight, an exchange of ideas, and that peek behind the curtain at 'the process'. 

On the other hand, I feel like me writing a blog, as a writer, is a pretentious thing; why would anyone be interested in my ideas or a peek at my 'the process'. How many out there feel the same way? How many of us struggle with imposter syndrome? Lack of confidence? Fear? 

First thing's first; I am a writer, I have come to terms with, and accept that fact. I can pinpoint the moment I started creating to the Summer of 1986. I started writing prose in Elementary school. Whether it was derivative fantasy slurry or not, I couldn't say. I have lifelong friends who, at the time and since, are equally creative and inspire and encourage at every opportunity. So yeah, I write and have written for a very long time, thus, I am a writer. Phew, that felt... ok.

I'm prolific, yet the evidence is virtually non-existent (save for a handful of board game reviews that my other half posts on her Instagram and on BGG). 12-year-old Steve wrote and contributed to a photocopied booklet of short stories  (I don't even have a copy). I wrote a handful of video game reviews for a LONG dead website. I wrote a handful of video game reviews for a long-dead local coffee shop rag. I wrote a couple of hundred DVD and Blu-Ray reviews for a now-defunct website (I had the first Avatar Blu-Ray review on the web!) I wrote a batch of video game reviews and news stories for another (see a trend?) now dead website. I wrote half a dozen screenplays lost in a hard drive crash. I wrote a few collaborative projects here and there that remain buried (but I'm pretty proud of), and I've written countless pages of pen n paper role-playing stuff; game systems, settings, characters, lore, oh god. 

See? I write! I am writer! Goddamn it! Hear me fucking roar! 

Right now, I'm probably at my most ambitious; I've got novels, man! None finished - shut up. I've got three works in progress. Four or five other concepts in the ether that I feel are worth exploring. One of them is quite far along and is likely going to be the focus of this little blogging experiment for the next while. So what's the point of this ramble other than glorified self-promotion? I've just never seen myself as a writer. I've certainly never used that term to describe myself. I'm sure there are many out there who hesitate to use the descriptor because the term conjures a certain image. My vision of a writer was always Stephen King chilling out in his haunted New England mansion, slumped back in an easy chair as he churned out terror. It was Neil Gaiman in his tweed jacket and tussled mane tapping on a MacBook Air in Greenwich Village. Maybe it's JRR Tolkien dipping a well-used nib into a vial of ink and meticulously scrawling in old Elvish, or Robert E Howard in a small Texas bedroom banging away hungrily near an open window. It's Hemingway, naked and shitfaced in a humid hotel room with a typewriter. Who am I to even consider the thought of calling myself a writer next to these people? What claim does a middle-aged dude in PJs, slumped at a breakfast table, a slice of buttered toast in one hand, smartphone in the other, have on that descriptor? 

I'm writing. If I'm not, I'm thinking about it.

You probably are as well. That makes you a writer. So shut up complaining. Stop feeling like an imposter.

Not that you'll listen, I sure don't.

Until next time,


Jennifer Shelby said...

thing is, we writers love reading about other writers. Naked and shitfaced or pj'd and slumped with buttered toast. Great post!

Teresita Dziadura said...

Excellent post. I feel everything you wrote. When I started writing my blog I very much felt "who'd want to read about me? I'm nobody. No one's heard of me." but, like you, I did it anyway. It's nice to know your not alone. I like your blog style. Blunt and honest. I look forward to more posts!

SteveTP said...

Thanks folks! I appreciate the kind words. Hope you come back!

Admin said...

I think a lot of writers feel the same way. I wouldn’t say I have ever considered myself an ‘imposter’, but fear of my writing being ‘no good’ kept me from even considering trying to get published until I was well into my 30s.

And I have to say that even after a small independent publisher decided to take a chance on an unknown writer on the other side of the country and my 20-year project novel finally saw the (published) light of day, I still do feel that compared to the writers I admire, I do feel inadequate.

But that is the key. If I’m in a gym and I see a guy who looks like Arnie deadlifting 300kg and I compare myself to him, of course I’m going to feel like a failure. The reason I use this analogy is that, in the fitness space, I made a conscious effort to never compare myself to anyone other than myself – I only ever try to beat my own personal bests. No one else’s bests matter.

I think the same can be applied to writing. I try to make every single thing I write better than the last thing I wrote. I can still admire other writers, of course, but I never look at their work and think that mine will never be as good.

I guess the first time I began to realise that my writing is actually pretty good, was when my novel was shortlisted for a writing award, one being judged by other authors. I’d always known I had some talent, but the fact that complete strangers, talented-writer strangers no less, liked my book enough to consider it for an award, gave me a confidence boost I never knew I needed.

Writers are, for the most part, introverts. Meaning, we internalise the thoughts and process of writing to the point where we take the ‘we are our own harshest critics’ to often ridiculous extremes.

You have your different extremes of course. You have your Hunter S Thompson – who was so utterly convinced that everything he wrote was so good that he obsessively copied every letter he wrote and kept them on file in anticipation of someone eventually wanting to publish them. Then you’ve got Gogol, who was so utterly convinced his writing sucked that he burned the entire manuscript of his second novel.

I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to publish the cringe-inducing love letters I wrote to a girl in high school; nor can I ever see myself hating anything I write enough to set fire to it, but I think I now, finally, have a reasonably healthy appreciation of my own writing, enough to read something back to myself and say, without a trace of self-consciousness, ‘hmm…that’s pretty freaking good.’

SteveTP said...

Well said! And good encouragment. Would you say that the opposite also applies? Say you look at other published authors and think, "Jesus, I'm so much better than this!"

By the way, STILL haven't been able to track down a copy of FABEL that I can actually purchase in Canada 🤪.

Admin said...

Oh yeah definitely. I’ll sometimes read other authors and want to reach for the red pen to amend a paragraph here and there. I think it’s a natural part of being a writer.

And… I only had to read an excerpt of Fifty Shades of Grey to begin musing over a game you could quite easily play with that book (I refuse to refer to it as a ‘novel’): “How Many Clichés/Double Metaphors/Forced Analogies Can You Cram Into A Single Paragraph?”

Evaluating writing is, of course, subjective. For example, a LOT of people loved Memoirs of a Geisha, but I found huge sections of it so tedious I began to skim-read it. And I think Fight Club is one of the most overrated novels of all time. Thing is, I don’t think either of those novels are badly written. When it comes to trash like Fifty Shades however, it is most definitely bad writing, and proof that marketing is, sadly, often the reason some books succeed where others fail.