Writing can be a pain in the butt. Many people hate to write, even on a computer, and choose a career that doesn’t require much writing. Before writing, we had story tellers, who passed down stories by word of mouth. Of course, that meant the story could change as each person retold it to the next. When the concept of writing was developed, storytellers could make sure that their stories were told properly. Now you had a book you could read and get the original story from the author instead of hearing it from a friend, who probably told it wrong!
The downside to writing was that you had to write a copy of the story each time you wanted a book. Imagine trying to sell your stories to millions of people if you had to write each copy by hand! Enter the printing press and mass production. Follow that with the internet and suddenly people are able to publish whatever and whenever they want. We are bombarded by stories. Readers now have plenty of stories to choose from, both fiction and non-fiction. The downside for writers is that we have to be good at what we do more so than ever before!
The first story I ever wrote was a fantasy story. I still have the rough draft, my first and only pencil and paper project, that I wrote in high school. I’ve been a story-teller since birth, of that I am convinced, but it wasn’t really until high school that I took a stab at writing. I had several of my friends read it and give suggestions. Unfortunately, they were all fellow high schoolers, so I didn’t really get any good advice about writing!
Fast forward to 2006 and The Last Rejection was born. My first completed work, which I self-published after trying for months to get a literary agent with no success. I was excited about the possibilities and that was compounded by my naiveté. Now let’s move on to 2013, where I am now working on draft two of my third novel. Yes I have a second novel stashed away somewhere in my computer. Novel number three is a bit different from what I usually write. Still sci-fi, but no horrible virus made by a pharmaceutical company bent on making a ton of money. To be fair, I am still using the evil cooperation idea, but it’s more for background and not a major character in the story. I’m working feverishly on it to be ready for the next Amazon novel contest coming up soon. I do wonder, as I reflect on my 7th year of my literary career, if I have made enough progress in my ability to write a story?
I have taken breaks from my literary career quite a few times over the years. In fact, most of the writing I have done since going back to school has been academic in nature. If you listen to what many of my instructors have said, I’m a pretty good writer. Many of them have liked my style and how I use points and references to back up my statements. At least on a technical aspect, I seem to have improved my writing skills. Even so, writing fiction is not the same as writing a term paper.
The question of whether or not I am good at telling a story comes up in my mind, usually once I’ve completed a project. There is no real easy way to know if one is talented at writing. It’s not like singing where it is fairly easy to tell if you can sing or not. It shouldn’t require going on a talent show like American Idol to find out if you can sing. In fact, I am aware that I can’t sing, because when I do I can hear what I sound like! If on occasion I begin to delude myself into thinking that I might actually be able to sing, my family will be brutally honest. Hence, no embarrassment needed to prove my lack of skill.
For writing, it’s not quite as simple. All you can really do is write something and put it out there. Maybe, if you get mostly negative criticism, that might mean you suck. Then of course there is the matter of spelling and grammar. If you handle the technical aspect of writing, you’ll have a tough time coming up with a polished work. Try not to make too many mistakes and catch the ones you do make! At the end of the day you may miss one or two little things and that’s ok. Afterall, even textbooks sometimes have a spelling error here or there!
Finally, I’ll conclude with a little advice, never give up no matter how much someone else thinks you suck! You might risk being that person who lies to themselves or you might learn how to improve and become better at what you dream of doing. My dad used to say that anyone can sing, you just have to learn how to. I think that might be true of just about anything. As long as you can afford to do it, follow your dreams to the end, because you never know what you can do until you do it!