milquetoast's picture
milquetoast July 25, 2015 - 1:17pm

I'm tired of banging my head against the wall of wanting to write and not writing. Haven't written for a really long time. Is this drivel? I like it, but I'm too impatient to shove it away until a season or two passes, just to find out it wasn't worth the effort. I'm guessing this post is really a plea for motivation and a seeking of inspiration rather than a critique of the words below. Or maybe the entire intent of this post is simply selfish and stupid.

Not so long ago I attended a swanky dinner party lit entirely by candlelight. Bursts of irregular flickering, each quickly subsumed by wells of shadow, brought against the faces of the guests snapshots of expression without context. One moment a guest not far from me, across the long and narrow table, appeared laughing like a mad clown. The corners of his lips strained against the crests of a manic curl. Another moment he appeared again, furiously sawing at what could only be the meat on his plate, the buzz of his thin wrist a pale blur, a matte of skin in cutting motion, even after the image disappeared with the disappearance of the light. I saw him cutting. I never learned his name.

The candles surrounded us only — that was a novelty, too. A trick on the part of our hosts to make the occasion memorable. No light shone from a source between us. Only the unseen and unimportant, the backs of the servants as they served our food, the backs of our chairs, a highly starched collar with hair fallen over it, curls of hair lilting across a milky nape — only all of these things bore the constant light, these things we could not see. Only when guests moved in certain ways, in concerts of accidental angles, could I sometimes see the faces of those directly across from me sufficiently, so that I might recognize them again in the light of day. I would nod at them as if I heard what they spoke, particularly when I saw them speak, although there was no way to know if they saw me tilt my head at what I imagined were their most intensely spoken words. And while it’s true I might have heard them, could have understood them, for in this darkness the sounds coming from it demanded an attuned, inescapable focus, the candlelight still managed to snatch away the conversation, pull at the words of the evening, unspool the night from any sense of meaning. This was not a natural evening. I could feel the cardboard invitation rubbing through the cotton fibers of my shirt pocket, stimulating the skin beneath it. I could still see its red-inked script. These guests, dressed so richly in their velvets and satins, all cufflinks and and jewels, all of them shining intermittently, even in this evening’s tricks of light, this dinner-dance of shadowy planes and the slivers of jaundiced candle-light shaved from each one of them.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 25, 2015 - 9:30pm

Do you mean you keep coming back to what you've written when you say you're "too impatient to shove it away"?

If so, don't dwell, just keep going.

And so long as you're writing, you're practicing. And so long as you're practicing, you're probably getting better. And if you're getting better, and it's something you want to do, it was worth the effort.

Unless it's actually detrimental to the rest of your life. Then, yeah, I'd say quit.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer July 29, 2015 - 3:10pm

No one can really tell you if you should keep writing. If there is something in the process that you enjoy, then you should, if there isn't, then you shouldn't. Writing takes a whole lot of time for very small rewards. Part of that time is leaving your work alone and coming back to it later. Just write something else. When you get done with the other thing, come back to this one. Rince. Repeat. 

Quite frankly, I would be concerned if someone told you to keep writing or not based on a single piece. If someone did, I would tell you to ignore them.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break August 2, 2015 - 3:02pm

Although only a couple paragraphs, the excerpt shows a level of talent and polish that leads me to believe you wouldn't be wasting your time (or the readers) by continuing to develop your craft.

That's my very small two cents though. If you don't like writing you should probably move on to something that makes you happy.

Chris DePoy's picture
Chris DePoy August 2, 2015 - 5:33pm

I find that those first hundred words come out ridiculously slower compared to the next 900. Also, plotting the story out helps motivate me because I know where to take the story. Otherwise, if you don't feel comfortable committing yourself to a 75k+ try short or flash fiction that way your talent isn't going to waste but you still feel a sense of accomplishment without spending too much time.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami August 4, 2015 - 1:51pm

As you can probably tell, ultamately I think it comes down to you. A lot of concepts on what makes good and not good are subjective. But isn't that what makes writing great?

I think question is not so much whether one should write, but whether they are ready to publish. And even then different mags will have different ideas on what makes good good.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated August 5, 2015 - 4:49pm

I'm of the mindset that if you need encouragement maybe this isn't for you. If you are going to do it anyway and just hoped some encouragement would help and that is what you are asking for, go for it.

big_old_dave's picture
big_old_dave from Watford, about 20 miles outside London, Uk August 13, 2015 - 2:50am

I always struggle with first drafts, that first time around directing the story and characters, creating the world. I'm really slow when it comes to this, just out of lazyness really. Once that's out the way once I know the shape of the story the next drafts come a lot quicker....but that first that's a bitch. 

dollface993's picture
dollface993 from Detroit is reading As many craft essays as I can find September 30, 2015 - 1:36am

I think we all have feelings like that at one time or another. I don't think any of us are moved particularly by our own work. I don't know how many times, I felt like I was stuck, reread what I wrote, and thought it was complete crap. Then someone I know will read it and say, 'Hey, aren't you going to finish this? This seems imortant. Others can relate...', the list goes on and on. We are always our own worst critic. That's why we have reviews. So we know what really moves people and what really stinks.

I think the fact that you even asked, shows you care about your work.

The problem is, it hard to be objective about your own work. If you have doubts, there is a discussion called, 'post a paragraph'. You can get a lot of helpful feedback there when you are stuck. I've never posted there, but I do enjoy reading it.

If this is what you really want- and I think it is or you wouldn't be here- don't give up. Work on your craft. It will pay off in more ways than I could post here.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal September 30, 2015 - 11:54am

i heard a story once...

apparently neal gaiman once called his editor about 3/4 of the way through a book and expressed his concern that it just wasn't working, he didn't like the book anymore, yada yada... wasn't in a good place. and the editor was not at all worried. finally he said to neal, hey neal, you do this every book at about this time. and neal thought about it, realized it was true, and went on ahead.

Jimothy Scott's picture
Jimothy Scott from Canada is reading The Anatomy of Story by John Truby September 30, 2015 - 12:23pm

That's awesome

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal November 4, 2015 - 10:01am