During my last year of college, I took a creative writing course. In this course, we were assigned to read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I remember being so ecstatic about reading this book. I was ready to absorb all of the hidden gems of information that this super successful writer had to offer. I admired and enjoyed his straight shooter attitude, and in the words of Wendy Williams; he gave it to you straight, no chaser. I highlighted the good parts, wrote notes about my thoughts on very good parts, and fervently dissected the paragraphs I deemed priceless. It wasn’t until midway through that my palms got sweaty, my eyebrows furrowed, and my spirits took a dive to my toes.
…if you’re a bad writer, no one can help you become a good one, or even a competent one. If you’re good and want to be great…fuhgeddaboudit.
–Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
These words jumped off at the page at me. What if I was a bad writer? Was there no hope for me to improve? Closing my book, I found myself moments later with teary eyes and an uncertain future. The problem was not really what Stephen King wrote, the problem was that up until that point, I never considered if I were REALLY a good writer. All that I knew is that I loved to write. I loved putting pen to paper and seeing where I ended up. I always thought that if I kept writing, over time I would improve.
Now, years later, I still read parts of his book that I feel are important. However, in my mind, I know that a page or two exist inside it’s black and white covers that still create an anxiety that I didn’t fully understand. It wasn’t until I decided to read it over again and actually write down my insecurities, that I was able to reconcile my feelings.
The problem is that, writing as a career can be one of the longest, coldest, roads that you can travel on. There are so many people out there competing to be the next Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Joanne Rowling, or Victoria Aveyard. There are seas of endless souls self publishing on Amazon or sending query letter after query letter to publishers, just hoping for the opportunity to gain some type of respect or notoriety in their craft. Because of this, we forget why we write in the first place, and we join in the proverbial rat race that we used to vow never to be a part of.
We started to write because we love the way it made us feel. We love when people read our stories, poems, or other works, even if it’s just one solitary soul. We revel in the thought of letting another person trifle through our imaginations, basking in all of its creative glory.
Writing can also act as a cleanser. Have you ever just had a really good cry? You know, the type of cry that creates snot and ugly scrunched up faces? That type of cry heals some of us and we feel relieved. That’s how writing is for many. So when it’s time to come to terms with whether you’re a bad writer or a good writer, and if you can improve, I believe that you definitely can if you have the love and determination to do so.
So, am I a bad writer, a good writer, or a great writer? My answer is, I simply do not give a shit. I will plug away one word at a time in hopes that someone else will read someday, just because I love doing so. If I am successful, great! If not, I spent my life doing something I absolutely love.
The hopeful writer