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Am I a bad writer?

December 15, 2010

Just how bad a writer am I? Asks Vernon Lott to America's top authors in Bad Writing The Movie

From the dark awakening
Cold thoughts of fear hold
Into my cap fall
Tortuous glimpses of dawn
And her many warm epiphanies.

I should make it very clear that I didn’t write this.  It is a ‘verse’ from the poetry of Vernon Lott, a writer on a journey to discover why he is not succeeding; a question at the top of my mind following the recent rejection of my manuscript.

Interviewing some of America’s most successful contemporary authors from David Sedaris to Margaret Atwood,  Vernon records this journey in the moviementary Bad Writing The Movie.  Here they either laugh, scoff, patronise, warmly guide and advise but fundamentally they all agree that his work is terrible.

Not realising that I am suffering the intellectual bruises of another rejection, a lovely friend of mine unwittingly sent me the trailer as you can watch here.  One could argue his timing is deplorable but actually I should thank him because he has forced me on a journey myself.

Once past the deep depression that my work is as bad as Vernon’s, past the cringe factor of hearing generally indulgent writing, I was then galled to my guts with the confronting insight from Margaret Atwood who says; ‘There is no rule that says your work steadily gets better.’

Damn.  Double Damn. Am I a bad writer? And will I be a bad writer until the end of time?

When I ask myself these questions, as have the members of his facebook group, Vernon’s line above strikes a frighteningly resonant chord.  And in that case, by rights perhaps his work is not that bad and maybe, just maybe George Saunders, Margaret Atwood, Miles Corwin, Nick Flynn, Aimee Bender, D.A. Powell, Lee Gutkind, Steve Almond and the agent I am trying to be signed with are also wrong?

Somehow I doubt it, but I will keep writing, badly, until…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2010 2:31 pm

    I found this a most interesting blog, Susie. It’s really made me think. In fact, my own blog next week will be my response to your piece. Thank you.


  2. childrensauthor permalink
    January 3, 2011 7:37 pm

    sounding very familiar…
    bad writing according to the current, perceived need? objective, subjective viewpoints? writing for publication or writing for ourselves or, as they say, write for the story. But if it’s never published, will it be heard? Unless the story is lifted off the page by the reader, it stays in a limbo land of potential. Someone (who?) talked about the ‘death of the author’, when a story is read. It becomes the reader’s OWN. The author is … gone… The only relationship is then between the reader and the story.
    is it a zeitgeist?
    all I can say is – every dog has it’s day
    get barking and keep writing!
    never give up

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