At present I’m taking a writing course, and sometimes I find the instructor’s comments a little raw. More than once, I’ve asked myself if I should just throw the story out. At least once I’ve asked myself if I’ve got what it takes to be a writer.
I have to remind myself that real writers are constantly asking themselves these questions. Regarding the latter question, I think I should be asking myself, “Could I stop being a writer if I wanted to? Could I put down the pen or get up from the keyboard and never write again?”
No, I couldn’t do that. Writers—whatever our level of talent and training—write because we must. It’s a pleasure, a joy, maybe even an addiction. We can’t stop. We shouldn’t.
What we should do is keep trying to improve our skills, get closer to our authentic voice, and keep writing.
As to the first question: Should I throw the story out?
I have three answers to that question, but more than three answers exist:
Sometimes the answer to that might be yes. I wasn’t always comfortable with that, but now I see that everything I write makes me a better writer. Maybe not all of it will be worthy of publication, but it’s valuable to the process.
Other times the answer to that question might be that the story isn’t fully realized. I need to keep working on it. I can make it better. I do make it better.
Occasionally, I have to remind myself that everything is a matter of taste. There are plenty of successful writers whose work doesn’t speak to me. Someone published the work, but I don’t like it. Not everyone has to like our work for our work to be of value.
Seek balance. Listen, evaluate, decide. Letting go is one of life’s constant and mostly difficult challenges. Perhaps, sometimes, we need to let go of a story. Other times, we might need to let go of someone else’s opinion. So evolves the writer’s path.
Picture: Traveling the country roads in Ireland.
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