It’s All a Question of What the Answer is…

Questions are easy to come by. The answers can be much more elusive.  Am I talented? Is my writing marketable? Why doesn’t my book sell?  As fellow blogger and author, Chris Galford asked in a recent post, “Are we bad writers or merely struggling writers?” The answer is a matter of perspective.  Someone with less talent will hold you in higher esteem. Others may see your work as promising and hopefully offer advice to help strengthen what you have. There will always be someone who will have plenty of destructive criticism.  That all assumes that anyone has read what you have written.

There are mediocre writers who have been highly successful and certainly the inverse must be true. So, I wouldn’t equate success with talent. I keep coming back to Chris’ “bad versus struggling” question.  Writing is a struggle. It takes discipline. It takes desire. It takes talent. It takes time. For that reason I would place every writer in the “struggling” category. The “good” or “bad” part of the equation is still another question. I don’t know how we nail down that answer, but I do know that you can’t be a good writer if you don’t write. Keep up the struggle. Keep the pen moving. As Scully and Mulder knew, “The truth is out there.”

photo illustration by Andy Black

4 comments on “It’s All a Question of What the Answer is…

  1. I do so agree with this, Andy: you can’t be a good writer if you don’t write (although you can still be a bad one). I suppose I would consider myself good if I could be content with my work most of the time. If it came out on the page at least half as well as it elusively came into my mind. If I can do justice to the story, the feeling, the thought, at least part of the time. Sounds like modest aspirations, but the more I try, the harder it seems to get!

  2. Marina–
    The harder we try the harder it gets, that’s almost a Catch 22, isn’t it? Is that because the harder we try the better we get? The better we get, the higher our expectations. The higher our expectations, the harder it gets and so we try harder. It’s a viscous cycle indeed. From time to time you have to step out of that squeaky little exercise wheel and take a less critical view. You might hear yourself say, “This is pretty damn good…”

  3. I suppose, on my end, part of the issue that dragged up the question in the first place is a growing lack of insight in the industry. As slush piles grow in the main industry, as they have been for years and shall continue to do, more and more the “professionals” to whom we’re supposed to aspire simply reject. There is no insight, no criticism, no words, really, at all–merely a pass and a moving on. One begins to question if they even read your work at all.

    When one turns to the self-pub field, then, one also begins to realize rather quickly that for a goodly number of them the only voices lending insight to their own works are family and friends. It’s always a nice feeling, mind you, but rarely the true analysis one is looking for.

    Given that writers themselves (I know I am) are an incredibly self-critical lot, it’s hard not to be discouraged at some point when you can go literally years without some real thoughts on your words working their way to your ears, good or bad. And that just leaves you with the voices in your own head–never the most kindly bunch.

    I’m liking the post, though, and I thank you for the shout-out…as well as the food for thought commentary on my own question. Cheers!

    • Chris–
      Eloquently put. I know what you mean about self-published authors desperate for some unbiased critical feedback from someone other than that circle of family and friends that are impressed before opening to page one. From what I’ve seen of your writing I think that you have plenty of talent, passion and insight— necessary ingredients for success. While your book is not a genre that I am a custom to reading, I will add it my “to read” list for this summer (I am pledging to break out of my own rut by trying some different things). And once done (be patient, I’m a slow reader) I will give you my unvarnished opinion. In the mean time don’t bend under the weight of the words of those not so nice voices in your head. Easier said than done, I know…

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