I always cringe.
I cringe if it's good, because- if it's good- it usually feels "too revealing", and if it's bad? Well- that's just embarrassing.
I've written a lot of good and bad things over the years, but what I think qualifies me as a "writer" is that I keep writing day after day, year after year, decade now after decade. (Yeah- I'm that old.)
So- if you're wondering if you're a writer, asking yourself, "do I write?" is a pretty good indication.
Writers also write a lot of crap. They have to in order to get good.
Therefore, if you want to be a good writer, you have to be willing to suck- maybe for a very long time, and- even then- once you're officially "good", you will still probably suck on occasion- especially if you want to continue to grow...
That's me 20 years ago. Look how serious(!), important(!), brooding & writerly I was!
Har... Har... Har....
Actually, I was serious back then. I was also quite brooding and tried like hell to seem important & writerly.
See that messy stack of papers and folders behind my head shot? There's a whole lot more where that came from! I keep all my old scribblings padlocked in a wooden foot locker in my living room.
It's fun to go back through them sometimes but otherwise pointless.
I used to save every word and scrap, thinking, "I might use this one day!" But I never did...
I outgrew those words the second they hit the page, which is what makes this whole era of digital publishing a real trip now. It's dangerous, exhilarating business.
Today I can put something in writing, hit "publish", and it's there for the whole world to see in a matter of seconds.
Sure- the thought of that makes my inner perfectionist want to go on long, crazy censorship binges, deleting anything & everything with my name attached, but my inner perfectionist is no longer running the show.
If she were, I'd have to get a second foot locker.
As it stands now- I haven't added one piece of paper to that old foot locker in I-don't-even-know-how-long... a very long time.
All my sucking and not sucking is right here on the internet.
This has forced me to continually move on, releasing any delusions of grandeur and learning to be okay with the fact that I will sometimes cringe when I come across an old piece.
Sometimes I suck, sometimes I don't, but, either way, it feels fucking amazing to hit "publish" at the end of the day.
I don't have to wait for permission.
I don't have to be good.
I can keep cranking it out word after word, day after day, and that, my friends, is what being a writer is all about...
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from writers on writing :
★ "Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work." -Stephen King
★ "Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results - the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless." Elizabeth Gilbert
★ "Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” -Anne Lamott
★ "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway
★ “Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage.” -Robert McKee
★ "Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself." -Henry Miller
★ “I hate writing, I love having written.” -Dorothy Parker