On Writing and Ranting

“What I don’t understand, Stevie,” she said, “is why you’d write junk like this in the first place.  You’re talented.  Why do you want to waste your abilities?”  She had rolled up a copy of V.I.B. #1 and was brandishing it at me the way a person might brandish a rolled-up newspaper at a dog that has piddled on the rug.  She waited for me to answer – to her credit, the question was not entirely rhetorical – but I had no answer to give.  I was ashamed.  I have spent a good many years since – too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write,  I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent.  If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.  I’m not editorializing, just trying to give you the facts as I see them.  Miss Hisler told me I would have to give everyone’s money back.  I did so with no argument, even to those kids (and there were quite a few, I’m happy to say) who insisted on keeping their copies of V.I.B. #1.  I ended up losing money on the deal after all, but when summer vacation came I printed four dozen copies of a new story, an original called The Invasion of the Star-Creatures, and sold all but four or five.  I guess that means I won in the end at least in a financial sense.  But in my heart I stayed ashamed.  I kept hearing Miss Hisler asking why I wanted to waste my talent, why I wanted to waste my time, why I wanted to write junk. – Stephen King, from On Writing

Miss Hisler’s voice still resonates with Stephen King.  The successful author still hears the critic from his past.  I think that’s what the critic wants.  Their voice to be heard over the successes of the author.

According to a commentator on a blog post here on ChicagoNow, “this is the worst sports article ever written.”  I’m not a sports fan and I know very little about sports, but I doubt seriously that my colleague wrote “the worst sports article ever written.”

Anyone who has ever written a blog knows it doesn’t take much to set somebody off in the comment box.  Sometimes the comments can be thoughtful, but a lot of times they’re ego filled rants.  Or worse.  I was going to put an example here that I removed from one of my posts, but I just couldn’t do it.

Writing about Catholicism has brought my share of critics.  But it also has brought the heartfelt comments as well.  On several occasions I’ve gotten emails from those who supported my article and told me to ignore the rants.

I started reading “On Writing” for inspiration.  If you write, you might want to read Stephen King’s entertaining instructional on the writing process.

There will always be critics, but I don’t think anyone should allow someone else’s voice in their head for too long.

For me, the voices of my family, friends and readers are louder than the critics, but I also like this quote from Stephen King’s book:

“Do you need someone to make you a paper badge that says WRITER before you believe you are one?”



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