I wasn’t sure whether to leave this as a “Found thing” here or not. Or maybe comment a little.
J C Hutchins on being an “aspiring writer“. A witty and smart approach to the game.
I have been accused of being an “aspiring author” by somebody, which when you’re on your twenty-second book might be a little silly.
Part of me wants to duck my head in shame: I’m aspiring because I’m not published. Or at least, Amnar has not been published by a mainstream publisher of whom the world can nod and say “Yes, we know about them.”
I always thought I could call myself a writer (or an author), when I was published, but not before. Ah, the yearning for recognition!
It’s a modern thing. A lot of authors we now consider classics were… gasp! self-published.
Hutchins is right. And not just about that.
It’s the drama of the writer. The artist being far too introspective and self-obsessed. In The War on Art, Pressfield says something similar.
Real writers don’t worry about identifying themselves as writers, or sit about considering whether or not they are aspiring or actually there, or whether you have to have won a Pulitzer to finally put that ego down.
They aren’t the only ones.
In Peter Selgin’s 179 Ways to Save a Novel, he discusses the various ways this insecurity, this anxiety about ‘being a writer’ ruins your work.
Firstly, you can’t even get started.
Secondly, when you do get started, you get so obsessed with creating perfect, gilt sentences of such astounding beauty that editors over the world will orgasm at the sight of them (my words, not Selgin’s), you can’t get past the first one.
Thirdly, pretty much everything you write is so lost in the beauty of stringing words together that it is, essentially, meaningless. You write to impress, rather than express.
I think maybe we use “aspiring” because we’re scared of being knocked down by somebody rampaging into our lives with their own insecurities, telling us that we aren’t all that.
I suffer a lot of this.
I don’t struggle to write. I struggle to deal with that insecurity that I thought would pass after I was first paid to write, and didn’t. I simply upped the ante.
Instead of being paid to write, I had to be paid to write fiction.
If people paying hardback book prices for your e-books counts as being paid to write fiction, I’ve managed that.
Oh, no, it’s not that. You have to be paid by a publisher.
Still working on that one.
Yes, that’s where my insecurity rests now. I’m sure it’ll find a new home soon. It’s like a small, lurking rodent, seeking out confidence and nibbling away at it, certain that somebody is going to call me out somewhere.
“You’re a fraud because you haven’t achieved X yet.”
There’s always one. Well, there’s always one imaginary one. The one in your head, telling you that you aren’t good enough.
But, as Hutchins says, perhaps it’s a good thing to be a little insecure.
It keeps me working harder, trying to improve.
It means I’m not so confident about my work I’m blind to its flaws.
I recognise my own limitations. Possibly a little too much of that, but no need to dwell…
We’ve developed this idea that there’s a gateway when you can call yourself something like “writer”.
I know painters. It exists for them, too.
Pressfield is right again. The only answer is to get on with it, because that’s the important bit.