Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Doubt

Status Update:  currently experiencing an over-abundance of coffee. Really good coffee, actually. Damn these local distributors and their excruciatingly well-selected and fresh beans. Story fully developed, just have to write this bad boy.

...and it's back to the cowboy story. It's more on the horror end of the spectrum, sort of an even mix of Dark Tower and Clive Barker. So, not so much with the wackiness this time around. This is going to be fun.

Every once in a while, I stop to wonder just what in the Sam Hell I'm doing with all this writing. None of my friends write much, save for those two or three people you see at work who are always Writing Their Novel (which usually never gets finished). Then I'll look at whatever book or story I'm reading currently and do some comparison with whatever I'm writing. And, for just a few seconds, I'm tempted to give it all up, go back to Not Writing. There's a whole hell of a lot of couch to hold down. I could sleep more. Go outside. Catch up on my video game backlog. Putting words down is time-consuming and actually pretty damn hard work. I've had less draining days digging ditches.

Then I go back to writing.

Because I know that nobody's ever any good at what they do at the ass end of the day--that slump at whatever point in the 24-hour slog where your energy levels are the lowest.

With me, it's usually when I'm at the most routine part of my daily routine. Answering detritus in my inbox at work, or taking a piss about halfway through the afternoon, maybe after a meeting about the hoozits and the whatzats.

I'll think about what I'm currently writing or something I just put out and despair a little, because it doesn't really stack up mentally to anything I'm reading. Ignoring, for a second, big names like Kurt Vonnegut or whoever, even young authors blow away anything I've ever or will ever put down. Charles Stross is funnier than I'll ever be. Tobias Buckell writes incredible action. China Mieville has entire universes in his head weirder than anything I'll ever come up with. Richard Kadrey has a filthy sort of unpredictable humor that I'll never be able to touch. Don't get me started on Gail Carriger.

And none of that matters.

This is the same dilemma that causes people to keep up with the Joneses. Your brain is not wired to think objectively about groups of people. Your subconscious makes an average of everyone you know and then judges itself on those standards.

If you're unhappy with your lifestyle, if you don't think you have good enough stuff, it's not because any single one of your friends has all the stuff you want. Nancy has a big house. Steve has a giant television. Ramon (damn that Ramon) has a really freaking awesome car. So you want a big house, a giant television, a really freaking awesome car, too.

Never mind that Ramon lives in a tin shack and Steve drives a fifteen year old Oldsmobile. Your brain isn't wired to think on that level--it evolved on the plains of Africa millions of years ago where snap judgements were a necessary part of life. When it came down to filling up your stomach or getting dismembered by a pack of hyenas you couldn't afford to weigh particulars.

And so it is with writing. Maybe Charles Stross wishes he were better at being gritty, like Kadrey. Maybe Kadrey wishes he were more inventive like Mieville. Maybe Gail Carriger envies Tobias Buckell's ability to write action sequences.

Nobody's good at everything and everybody compares themselves to hundreds of other people who all have their strengths and weaknesses. You just have to be honest with yourself, spend time getting better at what you're good at, work on the things you suck at and hate (up to a point) and leave comparisons to the critics.

No comments:

Post a Comment