1. Kendria Perry
    Offline

    Kendria Perry Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, America's wang.

    Writing: Why bother? (serious question)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Kendria Perry, Apr 27, 2013.

    I've been posting around on various forums with a pen name, that all have to do with either movies or books, and after reading them all I have to say: why should I bother writing at all? I mean, people's reasoning for saying something sucks is so confusing and contradictory nowadays, I have absolutely NO idea if what I'm writing is bad or good. It's like one gigantic Catch-22 (another book that supposedly "sucks"). If you write something just for fun or write something in a simple prose style, people say your writing is "shallow" and "stupid". If you write a story that has a deeper meaning or has a statement to make on our society, or is written in a sophisticated prose style, people say your writing is "pretentious" (the latter, as a fan of Nabokov, really pisses me off). If you write in a particular genre or about a particular topic, like erotica or vampires, people accuse you of "jumping on the bandwagon" and "trying to make a quick buck", regardless of the quality of the writing. And then there are the smaller aspects of writing, like word choices or punctuation. If you use a lot of swear words, people will say you're "pandering to the masses", and if you use a little of them or none at all, people will your dialogue is "unrealistic". If you try to experiment with literature like Cormac McCarthy or Junot Diaz (no periods or footnotes, respectively), people will act like the kid from Emperor's New Clothes and say it's "trash" being passed off as art.

    With all this stuff raging against me, why should I bother to attempt to be a writer at all? It's like David and Goliath if Goliath was 100 feet tall and David was only 5 inches. It's impossible. It's hopeless.

    At least I have The Catcher In The Rye to console me. :(
     
  2. -NM-
    Offline

    -NM- Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    3
    End of the day it comes down to various things:

    1. Everyone has their own tastes. What you think is great others will hate and vice-versa
    2. People love to be critical but being complimentary is much rarer, especially on the internet and especially when it comes to giving an opinion about whether something is good or crap (check out things like IMDB forums, it's the same sort of stuff as you'll see on writing forums and other similar sites)
    3. You can never please everyone. I find criticism really hard to take (i posted a short story on here a while ago and whilst the comments were almost all positive, the one bad review that was very scathing still got to me), but you have to accept for every person that likes your work, a hell of a lot won't. If even just a handful of people like it and enjoy it, then you've done well.
     
  3. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    You write because it's something you must do, something you can't live without, a constant desire and need.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    It's in you.

    For life.
     
  4. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    If you enjoy it, then keep doing it. Sounds like those people aren't giving you constructive criticism so why listen to them? Also, you can't let that get to you. People say you're a bad writer? Get better and prove them wrong. Read and write. Keep learning.
     
  5. suddenly BANSHEES
    Offline

    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    It's impossible to please everybody. Everybody's got their own tastes and opinions, and there are a lot of folks out there who mistake their opinions for facts. Sounds like you've run into a lot of those types. Sorry to hear that.

    We all have different reasons for writing. Some people want to make a statement, others just do it because it's fun. I typically write the stories I'd like to read, because some of the more unconventional stuff can be a bit harder to find. What compelled you to take up writing in the first place?
     
  6. suddenly BANSHEES
    Offline

    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    double-post why????
     
  7. Kendria Perry
    Offline

    Kendria Perry Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, America's wang.
    double post
     
  8. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    The people who say something sucks may not have a valid voice - it's just their opinion. Not an official evaluation.

    Write because you love it. Because you love your story, you have faith in it.

    And take every one elses comments with a grain of salt - learn to separate someone trying to help you
    with your writing, from someone who's just spewing off.

    Console yourself that even published authors battled major self doubt - Lolita was rescued by Vera Nabokov just as
    Nabokov was about to toss it in backyard fire.
     
  9. Kendria Perry
    Offline

    Kendria Perry Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, America's wang.
    Thanks you guys, but I really don't feel like writing at all anymore, regardless of my so-called "talent". The odds against me are just too damn great.

    Salinger and Hemingway didn't know how good they had it.
     
  10. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California

    Website has been lagging today.
     
  11. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    Are these people serious readers or casual readers? If it's the latter, their opinion wouldn't mean much to me. I've met quite a few serious readers before, and none of them would say that Catch-22 sucks or that Cormac McCarthy is trash or that Nabokov is pretentious.

    It seems like your interest in writing is dependent on what others will think of your work. You have to stop thinking like that. Instead, think of it as writing for a like-minded audience.
     
  12. suddenly BANSHEES
    Offline

    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Plenty of people bashed Salinger and Hemingway in their day. And in this day. Even the classics aren't always everyone's cup of tea.

    What are these "odds" exactly? Just the criticism? If you're so sensitive that even the smallest critique upsets you so much, it might be best if you put off writing at least for a little while, if only for your own sake. There's no shame in that. No need to put yourself through so much stress if it'll only make you unhappy.

    (Side-note: Glad it's not just me having issues with the site for once;; )
     
  13. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    If you are writing for only publication and recognition, you are writing for the wrong reasons.

    I am pretty sure all successful writers wrote for the love of writing first, with the success being an added bonus.
     
  14. Kendria Perry
    Offline

    Kendria Perry Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, America's wang.
    The latter, for the most part. I once met a Liberal Arts major that tried to claim Lolita has no literary value, but I quickly talked him out of that theory :)
     
  15. Yoshiko
    Offline

    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    27
    I think that's a question that you have to answer yourself. Why do (did?) you want to be a writer?

    I don't consider myself a writer despite the fact I have published work spanning over seven years. I don't consider writing as part of my identity and I don't know if/when I will. The novel I'm working on at the moment I have a deadline on and I wrote today only because I needed to, rather than because I wanted to. But the reason I originally started writing this novel was because I loved the characters and I wanted to immortalise their story in print so that I could re-read it later. The first draft was written with no audience in mind - I didn't think it would ever leave my computer.
     
  16. Ian J.
    Offline

    Ian J. Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    London, England
    Too many so-called critics (both professional and amateur, in newspapers or on websites or forums) think that their opinion is somehow the only important thing and that everyone else should like what they like. Well, news just in, most people are different to each other and have different tastes - so those critics are wrong.

    So, ignore them, and that might include some critiques you get here. You should write what you want to write, but just do it to the best you can. If it works (regardless of how it does so) then it will find a readership. That readership might never be enough to pay the bills, but don't let that drag you down and stop you writing. I may never make it with my stories, but I will write them, eventually.
     
  17. T.Trian
    Offline

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    1,449
    Location:
    Mushroom Land
    I don't mean to appear mean or offensive (and definitely don't want to make you feel any worse), but to me that sounds almost like you write because you want positive reinforcement, that people read your writing and then give their praise. If you wrote only for the fun of it... why would it matter if people don't like it?

    I posted this elsewhere here, but I think it bears repeating (a quote from Frank Zappa, one of the most misunderstood artists of his generation):
    "The crux of the biscuit is: If it entertains you, fine. Enjoy it. If it
    doesn't, then blow it out your ass. I do it to amuse myself. If I like it,
    I release it. If somebody else likes it, that's a bonus."


    I know it's annoying to get bashed, but I try to cultivate an attitude like Zappa's, and most of the time I succeed. That's when I skim the cream off all the feedback (the good and the bad, the ones that truly did reveal mistakes) and move on. I write because it gives me pleasure. If someone likes it, fantastic, if not, why should I give two shits?
     
    1 person likes this.
  18. Kendria Perry
    Offline

    Kendria Perry Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2013
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida, America's wang.
    I do love writing. The problem is, it's hard to love it when every time I turn around people say I'm doing something wrong, and then I change it, and then they still say it's wrong, and then I change it again, and then somebody tells me it's wrong now and it was all right before, so I change it back, and people tell me it's wrong, and...well, you get the idea. (And let's not forget the people who blindly think everything nowadays sucks...God do they annoy me.)
     
  19. mbinks89
    Offline

    mbinks89 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Montreal
    Really, who gives a fuck about what a bunch of random people on the internet have to say? I think it was Bruce Lee who once said, absorb what is good, discard what is bad, and improve (or something to that effect). Do what you want, and write what you want. Listen to critiques with an open mind, then decide if it is worth it to take that reviewer's advice or not.
     
  20. Garball
    Offline

    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Messages:
    2,846
    Likes Received:
    1,332
    Location:
    S'port, LA
    Criticism is difficult to take when it is speculative, and all art is speculative. There is a difference between an editor saying your grammar sucks and a plebeian saying your story sucks. Fact is, people who dislike something are more likely to complain, and they are more likely to tell others when they have negative expereinces. That in itself makes the negative to outweigh the positive.

    Being a chef, I can put my heart into a plate and have people not care for it. Why? Who knows? Everything was cooked properly using proper technique.

    People are individuals.

    However, if everybody says my plate sucks despite proper execution, my plate sucks.
     
  21. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    Just keep learning. Improve your trade. Keep reading and writing. You need to develop a thick exterior.You need to see if someone is trying to help you or bash you. if they give you advice on how to improve, they are helping, if not, they're bashing you. Besides, how long have you've been writing? I've been doing it for six months. So if you continue, imagine how much better you'll get.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,995
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    It sounds to me like you're letting them define your voice for you, and that, IMO, is not a good idea.

    One thing that I'd suggest is separating the two questions of:

    1) This isn't working for the readers.
    and
    2) This is how to fix it.

    Your readers know what doesn't work for them, and you can't tell them that it works for _them_, when it doesn't. But your readers also can't tell you how to fix it. You're the writer. It's your voice. If it doesn't work for several people, then maybe it truly doesn't work, but you have to figure out how to fix it in the context of _your_ voice, rather than complying with their specific suggestions.
     
  23. LordKyleOfEarth
    Offline

    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX. USA
    Oh GOD, Catcher in the Rye was awful.

    Just kidding

    It sounds like you need to work on how to take criticism. There will be people who will disagree with ANYTHING you produce. That's their opinion, and they are entitled to it. Thank them and move on. If you need an example, I'll gladly disagree with absolutely anything, to give you an example of how contrarians can intelligently argue against anything in the world.
     
  24. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    You are describing the normal learning process we all go through, and it never really goes away. You will always learn new things. But, once you get to a certain point, you can discern for yourself what advice to take and what to ignore.

    All I can tell you is this:

    Keep on truckin', the hell with what other people think. Keep on readin', learn for yourself what you can and can't do.
     
  25. Mithrandir
    Offline

    Mithrandir Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    In the general vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean
    I think this really sums up my attitude to feedback. If I'm iffy about some advice, a concurring opinion or two tells me I'm wrong.

    As for why bother writing, I can say it isn't for the money and probably not for the fame. I have too many stories bottled up, and if I'm going to write them down, I want to write them down correctly. If other people read it, or even like it, then that's just icing on the cake (very nice icing).
     

Share This Page