Today I am going to write about writing. This post will probably be self indulgent. Consider yourself warned.
Writing is one of the most frustrating things you can ever decide to do with your life. Especially if you're a writer that reads, which all good writers must. Writing is unimpressive because it something anybody can do. It doesn't require money, anybody with an idea can start writing, especially fiction, these days it seems like half the world is working on a novel. But that's also the beauty of it. Great stories can come from just about anywhere, anybody, regardless of socioeconomic class, race, gender, what have you. Maybe even me some day.
I know I am not a great writer. Writing doesn't come naturally to me. I am not a genius born to tell stories. Writing isn't something I must do. Sometimes I wonder why I torture myself and then I remember. I do it because no matter how bad I am, no matter how much I hate the majority of what I write, I want to tell stories; and there is nothing like the feeling of writing something I am proud of, the rarity of that occurrence makes it even sweeter. Part of my motivation comes from wanting to write stories that I want to read. The other portion of motivation is derived from the admiration I have for history's greatest writers. Writing is the one experience I know I can share with them, it connects us. When you've read as many of the great works in western literature as I have, it's a double edged sword. I don't compare myself to other struggling first time authors, no, because what's in my head is some of the greatest literature ever written. I compare myself to Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Mark Twain, Dickens, Vonnegut, and I find myself lacking. But maybe on some level it does let me connect with them even more. The experience of writing certainly deepens my admiration for these great writers. Did they struggle? Did they strive to be great? Did they compare themselves to other great writers and find themselves lacking? Did they care? Do I care?
Stephen King espouses in his book "On Writing" that there is a gulf between great writers and those that are merely good (he classifies himself as merely good). I agree. Great writers are both born with the natural capacity for greatness, and work at it with an obsessive tenacity. A bad writer can become a good writer, with perseverance, humility, and hard work. Maybe that's why I continue even though I despair every day at the amateur quality of my work. Because in the end, if I press forward, and work my ass off... maybe I can be merely good.