"Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

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"Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

Post by Gunneh on Wed Jul 27, 2011 4:59 pm

There comes a point in every writer’s life where they finally stop dreaming of writing and actually write something. And as soon as they write that something, they want someone with “authority” to read it and tell them if it’s any good.

Actually, the most used phrase is “Tell me if I’m wasting my time.”

They send their work outwardly asking for an opinion and inwardly pleading to be legitimized.

Tell me I’m good enough. Tell me I’ll get published one day. Tell me I’m a writer.

When someone emails me essentially asking this very question, I respond the same way my elders responded when I sent them work and asked them whether or not I was wasting my time:

No one can tell you whether or not you’re wasting your time. You have to tell yourself.

There’s no magic moment when you feel “real” as a writer, no time when you just know you’re doing well.

90% of being a writer is feeling like shit about it; about whether or not you suck, whether or not you’re wasting your time, whether or not you’re offending people, whether or not you’re making a fool of yourself.

This feeling doesn’t go away. It doesn’t magically disappear. I still wonder this about myself even though people laugh and ask why I would ever wonder something like that in the first place. Nothing anyone says will ever make you feel 100% legit. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll over-analyze every nice statement until there’s nothing left. You’ll find a way to undermine every legitimization.

Oh, that person was just being nice. They just gave me this job because all the other candidates found better positions. He just doesn’t want to hurt my feelings.

My search for proof came in the form of writing jobs. I’d already made the mistake of having a professor read my early shit and tell me it was … well… shit. So instead I went out searching for jobs that required me to write. Because if I was getting a paycheck, I’d certainly be for real, right?

I worked as a “music journalist” where I got paid a laughable $8 to write 250 to 500 word online article about random fledgling bands. I got a job as an “editor” at a phonebook publishing company where I “edited” (read: double-checked) telemarketer-collected contact information to make sure the info we had was actually correct and the names were spelled right. I freelanced writing ads and emails for a family friend and got a job as a junior copywriter for an insanely talented freelancer in Dallas.

And did these jobs ever give me the proof I needed that I was for real?

No.

In fact, my plan backfired and all the writing I was required to do at work made me hate writing at home. I didn’t feel legit. I felt burned out and lazy all at the same time.

So how do we find that proof we so desperately need?

Stop looking for it. Just stop. Because no one is going to give it to you. Not your professors, not your critique group, not your bosses, not even a lit journal acceptance.

Asking someone whether or not you should continue perfecting your writing is like asking a guidance counselor whether you should be a doctor or a lawyer. All they’ll do is look at you blankly and ask you which classes you enjoyed the most while checking their watch.

As with everything in life, there are no guarantees or easy answers. One person may love your work; another may hate it. It just depends. Which is why whether or not you should continue writing depends on whether or not you can handle not knowing.

Here’s my motto:

Detach like Buddha and do whatever the fuck you want.

Source: What Not To Do As A Writer
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Re: "Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

Post by Axiom Awaits on Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:15 pm

Moved it to Writing and Role-Playing in General. Thanks for sharing this, Gunneh. Definitely a good read. I particularly enjoyed the last couple paragraphs. This could be applied to many things other than just writing too.
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Re: "Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

Post by Gunneh on Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:17 pm

Ha! I was wondering which section to put it in. Thanks, Axiom Very Happy
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Re: "Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

Post by Guest on Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:51 pm

I actually do not have this problem. I don't like sharing my writing with other people, and I don't want to hear their opinions of whether I am wasting my time, or if I am a good writer. I write because I like to write, and I don't really care if I do ever get published (though it would certainly be nice). So I suppose I have already grasped the solution to that article, though in a slightly different way.

Edit: I do doubt my worthiness of being published; I am, of course, self-conscious of my writing. I just do not doubt whether I am wasting my time in writing. I love writing, and that is why I do it. I know that the more I do it, the better it will get. Someday I am sure I will publish something, because it is a craft that I practice and get better at. I just don't need others to tell me that.

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Re: "Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

Post by The Melancholy Spirit on Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:41 am

Well... thank you for making any response I had to this completely pointless, Silvone! Very Happy In all seriousness, however, I can't say it any better than Silvone did to how I approach things.
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Re: "Mistake # 114: Proof" by Lisa Killian

Post by Guest on Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:10 am

The Melancholy Spirit wrote:Well... thank you for making any response I had to this completely pointless, Silvone! Very Happy In all seriousness, however, I can't say it any better than Silvone did to how I approach things.

"Was that sarcasm? I couldn't tell..." Very Happy You're welcome!

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