Friday, October 05, 2012

A Measure of Success

Cross the bridge and get yourself to the side of the river
where you believe you can be a writer. Just getting to
the bridge is a measure of success, too. Don't doubt that.
One thing I cannot do any more is compare where I'm at with where others that I perceive of my ability are. Writing isn't about competition, unless one is involved in a contest of some kind and of course everything you write - EVERYTHING -is subject to the taste of someone. Whether it's you or an editor or even your writing group who reads your stuff critically, someone is going to have an opinion of your work.

So comparing is just a way to get yourself frustrated. It's a trap that you can fall into and down a very deep, very black hole. Just don't do it. I don't and I never will.

The feedback from my writers group (some of whom are involved with The Confabulator Cafe) is the best I've ever gotten and they've made me a better writer. If I look at how well those who are giving me feedback are writing on their own (because we share our work from time to time with one another and you) I would probably just tear my hair out, start drinking heavily, and never write another world AGAIN.

The progress of the group this year has been amazing and inspiring. A bunch of us are submitting stories everywhere and everyone who has now has a story of being accepted by someone outside our little group. I know from experience how good that feels.

The other thing I can't do is measure my success against anyone else's. I have to be satisfied with my own writing first. Just like you. Just like everyone else in the writers group. (By the way, I mentioned once upon a time that I thought my group was a lot like the Montparnasse crowd and for now that seems to be holding true. I leave it to you to judge who is who.)

It's easy to say "I'm not as good as that person" when in fact you might be but because you are so close to your writing you can't see it. That's why it's important to have people you trust read your stuff. When they tell you something can be better you should believe them. By the same token when you're told that a piece of your writing is good, you should believe that, too.

I know it's difficult but you can do it. It's NOT impossible.

And that will be your track to getting a piece of writing accepted somewhere. Don't overworry it that you're not good enough. Your support group, those other writers whose work you like and may want to emulate, will mean it when they say that. Do not give into the Voices of Doubt. (That's my band's new name, by the way.) Shove that stuff aside and sit your butt down and start writing. Get those voices out of your head and into a story.

When you can write and look at something and say "Hey, this is pretty good" and your trusted readers come back with "Hey, this is pretty good" you'll know you're on your way.