You have killer taste

If you were an English major in college or you took a creative writing class once upon a time, chances are that you are familiar with the dread that comes from writing. You spend hours slaving over a poem, a short story, a piece of creative fiction and all you can think at the end of the process is, “This sucks. No one will like it. I hate my writing.”

Recently, digging through boxes of old college work, I came across an e-mail exchange between me and my creative writing professor that went a little something like this:

Me: Hey! I’ve attached my poem “Little black book.” Sorry for turning it in so late.

Professor: No problem. Thanks for sending. This looks great.

Me: Ugh. Does the sinking feeling ever go away?

Professor: No. Not really. In fact, later you just layer the desire to vomit after turning something in with the general feeling of disgust.

The thing is, he is so completely right. The fear of allowing people to read my writing never really went away. And after all this time, I still hate just about everything I’ve ever produced — short stories, poems, articles for magazines, birthday messages to my grandma. Everything.

So what does all this fear and disgust do? It keeps me from writing. Well, that’s not the correct response. How am I ever going to get better? When will I ever produce something I love if I just stop producing?

It’s a little like how I got over the fear of roller coasters. I just kept riding them. Sure, I’d chicken out every now and then, but I kept trying. And you know what? I fell in love with roller coasters. (Plug for Universal Studios here – The Hulk roller coaster is the bomb.)

So I’ve made a pledge to myself: I will not let the fear of failure keep me from writing. After all, why stop doing what I truly love to do?

Yeah, I may still get rejected when I submit an essay to The Southern Review, but at least I have practiced. And practice makes perfect, or something like that.

Still afraid to keep doing your own creative work? Here’s a little something that Nick Hwang showed me the other day when I was feeling particularly down on my work:

And Ira is correct. You and I both have killer taste (Ira does too). We know what is good; it just may take us a while to produce it. So keep trying. I’ll keep writing. Maybe sometime we can share with each other.

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