The Evil Editor…

So far, my posts have been targeted at establishing this blog, and giving a little bit of history.  It’s good to lay a foundation before building a castle of deftly worded opinions on top.  I’m sure there’s more memories or anecdotes for me to share.  However, I want to get to the meat of it.  I want to talk about writing itself, and why I’m struggling.

Bear in mind that I don’t want to simply whine.  I’m going to whine some, but only because I need to get it off my chest.  I also don’t want to validate my stagnation with impenetrable excuses.  The truth is that I’ve been wasting my time, because I’m afraid.  Yes, I have a full time job, and a wife, and children, and healthy hobbies.  I can’t honestly say that I haven’t wasted a lot of time, playing stupid games, or simply watching YouTube.

I’ve been avoiding my stories, because I’m afraid.

I have some friends that have shared with me their writing, and some of it, I’ve had to pinch my nose to wade through it*.  I’ve told those friends the truth, complimenting the places that I could compliment, and gently urging changes in the places that desperately needed to be changed.  I try hard not to be an asshole, even when I’m being honest.

I know that I can do better.  Hell, I’ve read a bunch of L. Ron Hubbard, and I know I can do better than him.  Not that I have any intentions of starting religion or doing a bunch of cocaine… I just think that if he be a successful writer with things like Mission: Earth, I can do better.

I’ve had strange experiences reading my own work.  I read the book I wrote when I was in high school, and while a dime-story detective novel set on the moon is interesting, my actual execution was so horrible and non-publishable that it’s embarrassing.  On the other side of that, I’ve stumbled across other short stories and found them to be amazing, discovering only after I’d finished them that I was the author.

English teachers have told me independently that I have a strong writing voice, and I believe them.  After my return to college in 2006, I discovered that I can parrot other writer’s voices.  I wrote a few essays, using Emerson’s density.  I wrote some fan fiction, adopting the mannerisms and inflection of Robert Jordan.

With all of this bragging, why should I be afraid to write?

I build up my expectations too high.  I don’t give myself permission to write a shitty first draft.  I go a little ways into my story, and I start gritting my teeth, wondering how I could write so terribly.  I reread what I’ve been working on, and the Evil Editor inside can’t sit still.

I’m afraid I won’t meet my own stupidly high expectations, and instead of trying and failing, I simply fail to try.

It’s bullshit, and I’m not going to do that anymore.

It may be that I’m delusional about my ability to write.  It may be that the best I can do will make the worst of L. Ron Hubbard seem like Shakespeare.  As long as I waste my time, no one will ever know.

* Oh… and if you’re one of my friends that has offered me their writing?  Please understand that I have more writer friends than you may know of.  I’m probably not talking about you when I say I had to “pinch my nose.”