"Basically, you suck and have no chance of ever not sucking."

Posted August 13, 2015 by Jess C. in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

I’ve been reading a LOT of books on novel writing lately.  Especially if they focus on writing your first novel.  Many times, I’ve finished the book and been left with this thought:  “Why am I even bothering to write?  I suck.”
All of these “helpful” volumes insist that, since I’ve never been published, I will never be published – unless I use self-publishing.
My favorite take away:  If I want to improve my writing, that means that I need to improve my writing, and since the craft of writing is not something that can be taught (it is, of course, an innate ability given to a select few at birth), I have zero chance of ever improving my writing.
WHAT???  I don’t think that was what Hemingway meant…

It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.

I bought these books to learn, not to be told “I’m going to tell you how to write a good book.  But since you bought this book, you don’t have what it takes to write one yourself.”
I’ve been thinking I must be the only person who feels this way, but yesterday I came across Too Much Coffee, a post at thenovelinherhead.  It was very uplifting to find that there are other writers out there who are getting the same messages from these books (and a little sad).
Why aren’t other how-to and self-help books written this way?  Because no one else would buy them!
If I bought a book to teach me how to build the shelves in my library but almost every page told me my shelves will more than likely fall down because I’m not a professional carpenter, I would post a 1-star review of the book on the web.  And I probably wouldn’t be the only person who would do so…
Ultimately though, I’m over it (even though this post kinda sounds like I’m not).  I’m going to take what I can from these books, hopefully become a much better writer, and try to leave the negativity on the pages.
I just want to let all the other beginner novelists know that you’re not alone.  And I believe in you, (even if the brilliant authors who wrote those how-to books your reading don’t).

 An Added Thought:  

I recently came across this article, Best-Sellers Initially Rejected.  If it doesn’t make you feel better, I don’t know what will…  Here are some of my favorites from that list:
“Too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.” A rejection letter sent to Dr Seuss. 300 million sales and the 9th best-selling fiction author of all time.
The Christopher Little Literary Agency receives 12 publishing rejections in a row for their new client, until the eight-year-old daughter of a Bloomsbury editor demands to read the rest of the book. The editor agrees to publish but advises the writer to get a day job since she has little chance of making money in children’s books. Yet Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling spawns a series where the last four novels consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, on both sides of the Atlantic, with combined sales of 450 million.
Three years of rejection letters are kept in a bag under her bed. The bag becomes so heavy that she is unable to lift it. But Meg Cabot does not dwell on the failure. Instead she keeps sending her manuscript out. It gets taken on and The Princess Diaries sells 15 million copies.

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0 responses to “"Basically, you suck and have no chance of ever not sucking."

  1. Wow, that is exactly how I feel. There are so many how to write books out there and they all say that you can’t write, you are not good enough. Well sucks be them for thinking a person can’t come up with a good idea. I love your post!

  2. Unfortunately there is a lot of negativity in the world, but if you keep searching you find some with a lot positive to say. One person I like is Joanna Penn (for novels) or J F Penn for non-fiction books. Same person, of course. I also like her free podcasts.
    For myself, I say the more you write the better you will get. And look for those posting articles that are positive and encouraging. You seem to have found a few here, as seen on your comments here, and I will be checking them out myself.
    Good luck.

    • I feel very fortunate to have found so many great writing blogs with positive encouragement and helpful advice. I’m going to check out Penn’s books and podcasts. Thanks! 🙂

  3. I believe in you, too! I am definitely an aspiring writer/blogger not necessarily a novelist but maybe i’ll get the itch one day. I like your positive attitude about how you will take the good things and leave the bad things. That is really how we have to do life. Keep going I am subscribing to your blog and you have inspired me to write a success blog!

  4. oh those people haven’t a clue…don’t pay any attention to what they say. The best writers in the world have been told they couldn’t write if they had to…I never read self-help books, they are usually discouraging and full-of-themselves! Writing for an English class has definite rules upon which grades are based. But once learned–throw them out. Read real writers…like Steven King, Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel… I wonder how many times THEY heard that their writing sucked? I’ll bet a lot.

  5. Write with your heart first. Believe me, I’m no pro by any means, but I write what I feel. I’m working on a novel and I’m sure my words are in dire need of crafting and fine-tuning. But–it is what it is. That being said, I’ve read many, many novels and instead of thinking “my writing sucks”, my thoughts are often “How the eff did this person get this awful book published?”. Don’t sell yourself short!

    • LOL!!! I’ve often had that thought. It’s usually followed by “If they got this published, there’s no way there’s not someone out there who will publish mine!”

  6. I can relate to what you mean. I have been doing some self study and some onlne courses for writing and creative writing and they all make me feel like I suck and I suck like reallyy bad! I have a whole set of people on twitter telling me the same. But I guess I am just going to ignore them and continue to write until I feel I have written my masterpiece and feel the need to publish it! Good luck to you with your writing…. I am sue you will reach that elixir you are searching for!

  7. Hello Jess,
    This was a wonderful post and prior to Hemingway quote I was wondering why you were taking that turn. I am glad you shared that quote.
    Brain plasticity is also turning tables in nature versus nurture debate.
    Now intelligence is not seen as “hard-wired” as it used to be–same goes with writing I suppose. You raise some significant points.
    And I hope you get all the success in your pursuits.

  8. What an awesome post! I especially loved how you ended with “An Added Thought.” I wish you the best of luck and hope that you too are added to that list one day soon. I truly believe that critics are life’s biggest motivation. =)

  9. I don’t know where my brain was earlier today. I think it must have gone out for coffee. Anyway I wrote a new post today and listed the contact site for Joanna Penn. She encourages folks to share her information.

  10. Consider this quote by Jean Cocteau: “The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.” The ability to convey your thoughts via the written word is a God given talent. Use it well. Other things can be learned by practice, such as spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc. OR make friends with a language major and let them proof that aspect. But write. After all, practice makes perfect! And chin up!

  11. Oh my goodness, yes! I have gotten the same feedback throughout the years as I look to be published. Sometimes it feels like it is an unending black hole of nothingness. No help whatsoever.

  12. Sounds very discouraging…boo! I believe that if we keep doing what we love, success finds us…I chose not to chase success, but let success find because I’m busy working hard at doing what I love!!!
    Wishing you all the best…and your writing is very good! So success will find you!

  13. Meg Miller

    Have you read Stephen King’s “On Writing”? It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but as I recall it had some good advice and was sympathetic to unpublished writers.

  14. Jess,
    Don’t ever give up, you are a writer a storyteller the more you do it the more you hone your craft. You will find your audience and you will find your publisher. I am not a writer but I write any way and I will write a book and have it published, I am determined.

  15. Enjoyed this! I’m an artist not a writer but rejection still sucks. I’ve pretty much given up on the typical gallery scene and have created my own way.
    And hope you read ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott on writing – refrshingly encouraging.

  16. There are a lot of writing snobs out there, but ignore them! I think if you work hard enough at your novel and really put in the effort you will be rewarded. Of course it will be very hard work, but that just means a greater reward at the end of it all!

  17. Sometimes the struggles of others is of immense comfort and relief for your own.
    I think having a good story to tell is almost more important than if you are able to write beautifully. (EL James comes to mind.)
    It is very inspiring to be witness to the struggles of a writer. I also wouldn’t put too much stock into the ‘self-help’ books – otherwise everyone who reads them would be a best selling author! You are writing – and doing so consistently. That is amazing! Most people don’t even get that far!

  18. Nik

    I think your attitude of “take what you can and move on” in terms of these writing “experts” is spot on. I’ve been helping out editing a short story site for the last year and I can quite safely state more often than not it’s the self-taught, hard-working, open-minded writer that gets chosen over the snotty-bio-ed, literary wannabes 🙂 Keep writing and stay positive (and I’ll try to follow that same advice!)

  19. I’ve learned I need to shut out books and blogs like that. The discouragement they bring, for me personally, is more damaging to my writing than any good advice I can glean. That’s just my approach; I have an unusually high level of anxiety to begin with, and your attitude is awesome. Although, I have noticed those writers tend not to be particularly successful themselves. Genuinely famous writers are often quite open about their early failures. I remember listening to a recording of a Langston Hughes reading, and he started with his life story and poked a lot of fun at his high school poetry.
    A resource I love is http://www.writingexcuses.com/ It’s all experienced, full time professional authors giving advice to new authors, and they are all very encouraging.

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