Overcoming Writer's Regret

Less than fully committed:

As a teenager I wrote poems and song lyrics. For the most part they were terrible. I did not know that. And I guess I did not care to know. I read famous poems, great novels and listened to my favorite songs but never took a moment to understand what made those works enjoyable. I just chose to emulate my creative heroes in a way that an untrained, unfocused, and timid mind could do without much effort.

My results showed my lack of training and focus and my timidity.

As I got older I began to read books on songwriting. I learned that songs had parts -- verses, choruses, bridges -- and those parts had specific purposes. Many books had exercises; I never did them. That was too much work.

When I started sending out song demos to music publishers, when the rejection notices poured in, when I went to Nashville and found out what I was really up against … I quit. I quit writing, writing anything, for many years. That’s how serious I was about writing. The fantasy was lovely. The reality was something less than lovely.

Time went by. I began to write again. I occasionally wrote short stories. I wrote the beginnings of novels but never got past the first chapter. I had no writing process, no routine, no discipline, little knowledge of the craft of writing and no idea it could be learned. I wrote when the feeling hit me. There were times I would write every day and times I would not write for months or years. I had no system for storage of my work and no respect for its value. So why concern myself, should it be lost. 

And much of it was. 

I moved a number of times and occasionally threw away boxes that contained my writing and who knows what else; I lost interest in the old work so I disposed of some of it. Back in the nineties, after I got my first computer, I wrote a lot of stuff on the computer and never backed it up. A number of hard-drive crashes over the years destroyed a lot of work, some of it pretty good. Each time, I felt the hurt associated with something lost forever but, nonetheless, I rarely made the effort to do backups. (Backing up my data has gotten easier. I use Microsoft OneDrive now, along with a local external backup drive.)

I often fantasized about sending my short stories to publishers of magazines but I never sent even one. That was too much trouble and I sorely remembered the rejection notices from music publishers.

In 1994 I took a writing class. Over several weeks I developed an interesting relationship with the instructor, herself a writer and editor. She praised my work in class and in private. I felt motivated to do more. I had been working on a story about me and my father. I asked if she would take a look at it and tell me if it was any good. She took my work and treated it as though I was a professional writer working with an editor. She offered suggestions, pointed out the good stuff and red-lined the bad stuff. Her well-meaning criticism devastated my fragile ego. I still have the marked-up story, untouched, unimproved by these crybaby fingers of mine. 

Her great advice was wasted on me.

I wrote nothing for long time after that. A professional writer must have a thick skin and be able to take and act on constructive criticism. That will keep me out of the traditional publishing world. But now the concept of publishing has changed. Now we have the Internet. Now we have blogs. Now we have print on demand and kindle books. The world must have seen me coming and changed to suit my frailties. 

go to Just a wannabe || go to My old, failed writing process