I’ve been writing all my life, and it’s been a long one. My books have been published by major houses and they’ve crossed genres. My articles and short stories have been well received. Yes, I’ve earned money from my writing. But there’s still one, very big problem: I don’t like my writing. In fact, I just can’t go back to read something I’ve written and keep my brain in a steady state.
This is a personal issue, I suppose. I don’t think too many other writers are this distressed with their work. There’s no good, objective explanation. No known diagnosis that works. My reviews have been good and my writing has opened many doors of opportunity that I never anticipated. It should all be perfect but, at the end of the day, I’m still dissatisfied. I have an itchy bug that I chase every day. That bug refuses to die.
It gets even worse.
I can’t talk to anyone about my writing without becoming embarrassed. My family and close friends know this, so they just don’t talk to me about my writing. I’ve even changed residences because of my writing when I felt that I was losing too much privacy in my life. I do whatever it takes to avoid the subject, right down to flatly denying that I write at all. Everyone close to me has been trained to avoid the subject.
But, I’m lying to myself and to them. Secretly, I want people to read my words. In my heart, I feel good when something I’ve written moves a reader, makes him or her pause for a moment, think, get a good chuckle. Of course, I deny this to everyone. Well, almost everyone. My wife knows about my secret and she honors it. I suppose she puts up with lots of strange stuff, living with a writer. Anyway, I know that my secret is safe with her. But what about the rest of the world?
Now, I’m outing myself, just a little. OK, I don’t like my writing. OK, I still want someone, somewhere to read my words. I guess that I just don’t want to know about it in the traditional way. This is all too schizophrenic for my taste. I want my cake, I want to eat it, and then I throw it all back up.
It may come down to an evil mind trick that I’m playing on myself. It may all come down to tension. It’s mostly unconscious, I think. I carry around this dark critic that whispers, “Your writing is absolute doo-doo, so go find something else to do with your life.” Another part of my brain won’t let me stop writing, no matter how hard I try to find some other way. So, there’s a war going on. Write. Don’t write. Do better. It’s all crap. Get a real life!
Geez. What a drag! This has been going on for nearly 50 years now. Enough!
Since I’ve gone this far, I might as well spill the whole story. I need this tension. I need this kind of insecurity. If I was really satisfied with something I wrote, just one thing, I’m afraid I would stop writing on the spot. That would be the summit and I could sit back and say, “Wow! That was great.” If that happened, what would come next?
I suppose this whole schizophrenic approach to writing is my way of keeping motivated, of staying in the game. Frankly, it’s a pain in the ass. But, it keeps me writing and that’s what I enjoy. It’s both the curse and the blessing of my writing life. It’s the fuel for the engine, the tension for the rubber band in my mind.
I don’t like this article very much but I’m going to publish it anyway. Then I’ll never read it again.