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How do you know if you should keep going?

(23 Posts)
icepole Wed 14-Aug-13 05:42:25

I haven't been writing long and recently had someone rip my work apart. I am rewriting stuff just now and I am so aware of how far away I am from having anything half decent. I am full of doubt about whether I am kidding myself that I can create something decent.

ninah Wed 14-Aug-13 07:45:04

You don't. There are no guarantees about any of it.

JudithOfThePiece Wed 14-Aug-13 07:48:55

If you don't keep going, you'll never know. Keep at it and show yourself that you can do it.

There aren't any guarantees that anyone else will like it but they DEFINITELY won't like it if you don't do it and they MIGHT like it if you do.

ninah Wed 14-Aug-13 07:52:48

and what else would you do with the time? there's nothing that could be more satisfying than writing, surely. If it was easy it wouldn't be so magic!
Just do a bit every day.

GrendelsMum Wed 14-Aug-13 07:55:49

Well, if you don't keep going, it's certainly not going to get any better!
Have you thought about joining a creative writing class at a local FE college, for example? That might give you some encouragement and face to face support from week to week.

icepole Wed 14-Aug-13 10:50:30

Thanks. I was feeling despondent this morning but got up at five and did some work and I enjoyed it so I will keep chipping away.

I would love to do a class. I've just moved so need to find out if there is anything local.

icepole Wed 14-Aug-13 22:21:29

Just had a second person tell me not to write. Not a good track record.

GrendelsMum Thu 15-Aug-13 08:18:06

Oh, don't be so silly. That's to both you and this other person.

If you want to write, then write.

Look at your local FE colleges, find a creative writing class, and go to that. You'll meet lots of people and develop your own skills.

GrendelsMum Thu 15-Aug-13 17:20:18

Sorry if that was a bit too blunt, by the way, but it pissed me off to think of someone telling you not to write.

icepole Fri 16-Aug-13 04:09:56

I won't stop but it might be a while before a show anyone my work again!

GrendelsMum Fri 16-Aug-13 08:24:39

That's fair enough - I think that it's very different showing people work in a class, showing other writers your work, and showing your friends and family.

BitScary Tue 20-Aug-13 17:54:52

It is all, as my name says, a bit scary. A lot scary really. And it's never nice to be told (kindly or otherwise) that your work isn't anywhere near up to scratch.

I did a fairly prestigious course a few years ago and even though everybody on it had lots of talent, only a few have gone on to have their work published. I think most of them just gave up and drifted into doing other things. Writing well is REALLY HARD and nobody gets there overnight. But all of the writing life is just about keeping going. You'll find that plenty of people consider themselves to be good writers 'if only they had the time'. Well, that's kind of the point. Getting there is the boring bums-on-the-seat stuff, the time. It's not so much about raw brilliance.

GrendelsMum Tue 20-Aug-13 17:57:28

That's so very true, BitScary.

In fact, I could change my name to 'BitScaryAndReallyHard'.

The hard thing about writing a novel is just keeping going, I think, even when you don't know what to do and it all feels like crap and you can't work out how to make it better and the kitchen floor needs mopping.

Thisisaeuphemism Thu 22-Aug-13 19:24:37

Who are these people ripping your work apart? sad

Are you sure that's what they are doing?

At times like that, I console myself that there is a tremendous lot of crap out there- why shouldn't my crap succeed?!

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 23-Aug-13 14:16:35

'I did a fairly prestigious course a few years ago and even though everybody on it had lots of talent, only a few have gone on to have their work published. I think most of them just gave up and drifted into doing other things.'

I find that rather interesting. It's certainly the case that the people I have known who have shown the most signs of talent aren't necessarily the ones who are still writing. A friend wrote a terrific novel aged 27ish that I'm sure with a bit of work would have been publishable, but he hasn't written fiction since: he decided he would focus on his academic writing until he got a permanent academic job, and he got one recently but with family and the difficulty of just keeping your head above water in academia these days, I don't think he's about to restart the fiction now.

I have often seen writers interviewed who when asked why they became a writer say something along the lines of 'I couldn't do anything else'. It always sounded self-deprecating but I can see how it would be true - out of the subset of people who have the talent, the ones who stick at it would be the ones who don't drift sideways into something else.

GrendelsMum Fri 23-Aug-13 14:32:10

That is very interesting, isn't it? I also think that novel writing takes up a huge amount of time and mental energy (I was mentally comparing it to writing a PhD today), far more than I had previously appreciated.

Teapigging Wed 18-Sep-13 22:31:32

Echoing those who wonder who on earth was so negative about your work?! A writers' workshop situation? Some online set up?

Honestly, I think that the trick is just keeping going. I am pretty sure that what I am working on now is not 'good'. I think it may have the potential to be good, so I keep plugging away, sometimes finding it a chore, sometimes a delight. I would love it if Hilary Mantel magically appeared in my study and whispered praise in my ear, but you have to be your own critic and cheerleader.

CupOCoffee Thu 03-Oct-13 13:52:53

Who was it that told you not to write?

icepole Thu 24-Oct-13 12:07:21

A couple of people. A friend who basically said the work was shit and another person who I asked to take a look said it needed too much work and I would be best to leave it.

I have side stepped since then. I was working on kids stories but have shifted to poetry and I do feel more comfortable there so maybe it was a blessing in disguise.

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 24-Oct-13 14:32:29

Well, I'm glad you feel ok about it now.

I still think it was a mean and rather stupid thing to say to you, though. I mean, saying 'it needs a lot of work' is one thing, but it's up to you to decide whether you're willing to put that work in, not up to them to tell you not to bother.

Good luck with the poetry.

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Tue 29-Oct-13 18:40:58

Are you sure they are not trying to discourage you because you doing something exciting makes them feel shit about themselves? Is it called tall poppy syndrome?

icepole Tue 29-Oct-13 22:33:26

The whole thing was a bit odd. It was someone I know online and it was done in public on a forum on a thread where I was asking about something else altogether. If they had sent me a private message it might have been easier to handle but I felt really humiliated. And now they don't actually talk to me. All kind of weird.

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Wed 30-Oct-13 09:12:58

That's awful icepole! I wouldn't listen to the opinion of anyone who would do something like that!

Do you mean you had sent them some stuff to read and they replied on another unrelated thread slagging it off and saying you shouldn't write anymore?!

Really, ignore.

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