I was sifting through some of the most vicious writer on writer criticisms the other day and was reminded of this one by Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac. Whilst I’d usually find these to be amusing examples of opinionated self importance, it actually played on my mind for a few days.
Oh My God, is that what I’m doing? How will I know if this is what I’m doing?
Everything I’ve written over the last few days, (4,000 words, thank you very much), has been tainted by the knowledge that whatever I write, whether now while I produce mediocre ramblings, or in the future when these ramblings turn into something worth reading, will be viewed by someone somewhere as absolute rubbish. I will never produce the sort of literature worth considering for the Man Booker Prize, nor will Hilary Mantel ever read my story about a boy and his granddad who hop through time (see this story that I penned for my sons).
This realisation did, for a few days, make me wonder why I’m bothering if I know these things. Why would I spent months producing a book that is never going to make an impact? Why would I open myself up to criticism and opinions like Capote’s when they will likely force me to crawl under a rock and never come out?
The answer is simple. Because I want to. I am not writing for the panel of the Man Booker Prize, I am writing for me. When I sit at my computer or scribble in my notebook, I do it only because I’ve got something to say, whether it is worth saying to anyone else is irrelevant. When I write about my time travelling characters I do it because I want my sons to enjoy reading about their adventures, not because I want to create the next Harry Potter phenomenon. There can be no other excuse for writing stories about Martin, The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Farting and other bedtime dream fodder currently stored in hidden away files.
So, today I have quashed my inner antagonist and will forget about those writer on writer put downs, if I’m ever in the position to receive a scathing Stephen King review, I will just be thrilled that he bothered to read my book in the first place and remind myself that I didn’t like all of his work either.