Tuesday, 17 July 2007

I've just come off the phone to Stuart, my permanently cultured friend in France, who was buzzing with excitement about pigs, straw-built houses and life in general. I, au contraire, was feeling less perky than a pig; it has been a bad day in Brighton and not just because of the weather. I spent a good two hours staring at my screen this afternoon feeling everything I had written was puerile. It was a case of the bad attack of the jitters that Stuart picked up on and did his best to cajole, flatter and generally encourage me. He said that my problem is and always has been my low level of confidence and that I write well. How kind!

However, the episode reminded me of something I heard on the radio recently. I think it was Barry Cryer, though I wouldn't swear to it, who was reminiscing about his early days as a scriptwriter and who defined the collective noun for a group of writers is an insecurity of writers. How accurate is that? And how it cheered me up to recall it when I most needed it.

4 comments:

KeVin K. said...

Oh, I know I can't write to save my life. The trick is to get over it and keep writing anyway. Y'know, the way folks who can't sing become rappers. I figure there's no reason to let the inability to write keep me off the bestsellers' list.

Jen said...

DOT, you're in good company with that one!

"It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous."

Robert Benchley
US actor, author, & humorist (1889 - 1945)

CTaylor said...

That's the PERFECT collective term!

It's strange...when I started writing short stories in 2003 I was FULL of confidence but, as the years have rolled by I've become more and more insecure about my writing. What's even more perverse is that I've been published (stories) and even won a few comps but I STILL worry about my writing and whether or not it's any good.

I think, as writers, we set our standards really high and think "I'll never be as good as X" (in my case, X=Margaret Atwood) when what we should be doing is going "Well I'm better than Z and at least as good as Y." It's probably a good thing that we're all striving to be better writers but god it's hard on the soul.

Maybe the answer is to keep a copy of every book you've ever dismissed as 'crap' or 'badly written' and re-read it whenever you're being hard on yourself about your own writing.

Easier said than done of course!

DOT said...

Thanks for that, Kevin and Jen, I shall plod on marshaling my keys so they type something that at least makes sense and worry about the quality later. :)