Depression 5: Writing Bad

[WARNING: This is a self-indulgent series of posts in lieu of getting actual help. It’ll probably just be irritating to anyone else]

I’m not a real writer. Apparently a fear of many writers. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t true for some.

To be more precise, it should be ‘I’m not a good writer’. Which is, of course, a highly subjective term.

But I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and it feels like my writing is getting worse. And I’ve yet to achieve any success.

Not that I consider myself a failed writer. A failed writer doesn’t finish the story. I’m just an unsuccessful one. And unsuccessful can change over time.

I’m just not sure I believe it will. Or that I really want it to. I want my stuff read. And I’d like to make a living at writing, so I can continue to do so. But I don’t really have any image of what success would be like, and seem unable to place myself in any such scenario.

I’m not sure if I’m sabotaging myself. I know there are things I’m doing wrong. Basically the marketing. Reaching out to people, which will always be a problem for me.

And I’m sure the reason I can’t sell anything in the short story market is that they prefer idea-centred stories, whereas even if I start off from an idea, the story itself always ends up taking priority for me.

But I’m not sure whether I’m just not a good writer. Feedback from some people I trust is reassuring, though there’s always the concern of how much of that is politeness. A part of me kind of wants a voice of authority to say I’m a bad writer, and should stop doing it. A verification of what I feel deep inside.

Yet while I sometimes feel that about my writing, the next moment I’m completely the opposite. I have written some good stuff. But it’s shallow. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But then, what does?

I’m reasonably convinced I have some skills, or at least an inclination. There was one recently popular book, based mainly around it’s final twists. Those twists were similar to ones I’d used in a story a few years back (whose readership may just have gotten into double figures, so it’s purely coincidence of similarly twisted minds). So some of my ideas may be worth something.

Which could just mean it’s my execution that’s lacking. It’d be nice to think that, rather than that it’s all just a matter of luck. A lack in craft could be fixed. Random chance is notoriously harder to control.

That assumes that it’s my craft that’s lacking. But I see writing as being as much about art as craft. And if my storytelling art is what’s lacking, I’m not sure it’s possible to learn.

Ultimately, I feel compelled to write. I’m not entirely sure how much being read really matters. Possibly as part of the having a connection to the world, sharing my ideas. But it’s not the immediacy of a conversation, or an actual interaction.