Friday, February 12, 2010

deception

Self-deception can be good for a writer, particularly early in his or her career. I’m not saying I’m so good I don’t need it now. I probably do, particularly in order to get first drafts done. But it's particulalry helpful when you’re getting started writing. Most everyone writes badly at first. I wrote a lot of crap, a lot of terrible and just not-very-good stories. But I didn’t know it at the time. I suppose they weren’t completely awful. Not like the deluded American Idol terrible (self-deception in small doses= good; total self-delusion like some of those American Idol singers=bad). Still, my writing was not good. But I thought it was pretty good when I was writing it, and this self-deception helped me keep writing. Even if, once I finished a manuscript and a few months passed, I realized it wasn't good, I had that wonderful feeling while creating my story. By that point I’d be on to the next story, trying to figure out how to make it a better piece of work.

Writers aren’t like musicians.A lot of musicians can be very good when they're very young. Most writers who’ve published have written a bad novel or two or three or four before they write a good novel. Of course there are exceptions. There are writers who write a great first novel. Still, it’s not so bad to struggle a while. If your first novel isn’t immediately picked up by a publisher, you should know you’re in the majority. You should know that it does not mean you won't publish.

We have to work to get better. It takes a lot of work and effort and desire to make it past writing badly. But the good feeling of creating is there even when we’re not writing well; you should allow yourself to appreciate whatever you write. Then try to make it better. The main thing, the one thing you have to do as a writer, is keep writing. You will only get where you want to go as a writer if you don’t let yourself be stopped by yourself or anyone else. It’s the old boxer story. You can be knocked down five, ten, fifteen times in a fight. It can look very bad for you. It will look very bad for you. But what you have to do is get up one more time than you were knocked down. That’s all.

15 comments:

beckylevine said...

Good reminder. Thanks! :)

a. fortis said...

Thanks. I really like that!

brian yansky said...

Thanks for the comments Becky and a. fortis.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Holding out hope for books two and three :)

brian yansky said...

Solvang,

I know--kind of twisted what writers go through. Good luck and good writing.

Elisabeth Black said...

Good post! I feel encouraged, in a way, when I look back at stuff that's terrible and I thought it was good at the time. It means I've gotten better. And I'm probably still writing better all the time.

brian yansky said...

Elisabeth,
Exactly. I feel lucky to be a writer. I've read a lot of great writers claim they have a little talent but through hard work and desire have made the most of it. Maybe they're just being modest, but I think writing is one art where a lot of ground can be made by writing and reading and studying what works and what doesn't.

Indigo said...

I can attest to the difference between my first book and the second one. The third by is by far more intrinistic and throughly written. I can only hope to improve with each writing. Do I have enough confidence in myself yet? Smiles. I'm getting there, one word at a time. I think believing in yourself is half the task. (Hugs)Indigo

brian yansky said...

Indigo,

More than half.

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Thanks for the great perspective, Brian. We need to keep seeing the big picture as we focus on the small words that surround our thoughts.

brian yansky said...

Roxane,

So true.

ihath said...

It is a good feeling to be able to see oneself improving.

brian yansky said...

ihath,

So true.

Kathy Duval said...

I enjoyed this post. I've often thought how I'm glad I didn't know how bad my writing was when I started. I know I would have given up before I gave myself a chance to get better.

brian yansky said...

Kathy,

Me too.