TMM: Good Writers

good_writersWhen I was sixteen I thought I was a good writer. I had won a National writing competition with a magical realism novella, and the sister of a long dead, famous Romanian poet we were studying in high-school told me I wrote just like him.

This kind of gets to your head, especially at that age. This novella I had written received lots of praise from some of the best writers in the country. Published writers, award winners, people who owned publishing houses. And most of them didn’t even know I was only sixteen.

After that I thought I was so great that I wrote a short story for a competition the day before the deadline. And won first prize. I didn’t bother to write every day. I was just writing when I felt like or when I had to (like it had happened with the story for the competition.)

But the thing is, in writing, art, life, love there comes a time when you think there’s nowhere else to go. You feel like you’ve reached a peak. And maybe you’re aware that there are higher mountains to conquer, but you’re too scared to climb down and start all over again. So you sit down and do nothing.

It’s comfortable.

So I stopped evolving at a crucial stage, because I wanted more, and there was no one to give it to me. No one truly cared about the stuff I wrote, except for a few of my teachers. And it was all… honestly it felt like I was living in a sort of micro-universe. In the real world, in the big world, all my awards and stories weren’t worth much.

This is an extremely crucial lesson, one that most people will never learn, and one that the initiated seldom bother to write about.

Writing is like physical pain. Like a headache, because, you see, it keeps you aware and alive, so much so that the present is the only thing you can think of. And even the act of counting seconds… time just seems to stop flowing.

And nothing you wrote before truly matters anymore. Or the awards you won, or the books you’ve sold. Or the followers.

If it’s painful enough, you put all that aside. Fame or the lack of it, glory, money, and all the other stuff regular people think it’s important in life. If you write about something you want to write about, so bad that you just can’t help yourself, it doesn’t even matter how many people are going to read it.

You just don’t care.

I don’t care.

Because, you see, in writing, as it is with most aspects of life, you never stop learning. You have to approach the blank page with respect, just like a humble servant. If you’re not scared, it means you took a wrong turn somewhere.

If you keep asking yourself whether publishers are going to buy the book you haven’t even started writing, if you keep wondering if your followers are going to agree or disagree with you, that’s just going to show up in your writing. The fear, that’s going to leave an ugly mark. And if you’re so confident that what you’re going to write is brilliant, that’s going to show as well. The arrogance, the halfhearted attempt.

There needs to be a balance, somehow. And being aware and alive, being anchored in the present, feeling seconds tick inside a clock, that’s the best way to do it. And you write, and you write, and you write. Nothing else really matters.


10 thoughts on “TMM: Good Writers

  1. I really appreciate your honest here and I think I needed to read something like this. I’m a self-published author publishing in a non-popular genre (literary psychological fiction) and I’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts lately from other authors (most of them genre writers) about their achievements in the last month (like getting on the top Amazon lists, winning awards, etc). While I am starting to gain some followers and readers (I only have 1 book out so far so I’m still in the beginning of my career) and the reviews for my first book have been good, it still sometimes hurts to see these achievements of others (even as I’m happy for them). I know it has nothing to do with my talent or theirs – popular genres will naturally draw more readers and the demands of the genre are different (since most of them are plot-based rather than the character-based writing I do). I knew going in that it would be like this for me and I accept that and am happy for the readers I do have. But I can’t deny that the green-eyed monster does rare its ugly head now and then :-).

    Tam May

  2. Thank you for the advice. In my personal view, people write because they don’t have any other way to say they’re mad, or miserable, or nervous, not because they think of the fame. At least, I don’t. Me personally, I write when the world seems a little to much to bear. I’m just rambling. I’m sorry… Great post and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. This post came to me at the right time. Unlike the author, I never considered myself a writer. I still don’t. I just feel the urge to express myself and words come… actually, I am going to finish the comment and go write about this feeling. Your words are inspirational; thank you for the advise!

  4. This is very cool Cristian. I have heard from, and read from, other authors who never thought their writing was good enough. That they would not, or could not, evolve as you put it.
    Stephen King even said in an interview once, that he was never sure if his work would be accepted. And that is a good enough reason for me to never quit writing. It may seem gibberish to some, and poetic to others. But it was all part of me growing up. Good or bad. Crap or cream. It all came from me. Rock on.

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