From the desk of W. J. Onufer…
The value of writing self-indulgent crap…
I find myself in the curious position as a writer where other writers have asked me to read their work. The first few times I was asked I said, yeah, sure, I’ll read your stuff.
Wrong response. I don’t do that anymore.
I won’t name any names here. But the one of them was obviously a young person. Their stuff was just undisciplined ranting. Look at me. My life is a terrible thing. Everyone hates me. It was self-indulgent crap writing. Yes, there is some good youthful angst writing out there. Great existential story telling. But this person’s stuff wasn’t it. Just because this person threw in the F-word at least once per paragraph didn’t make him edgy. It just made him a mediocre writer.
Another was a more mature person who tried their hand at book-length writing. The manuscript was in excess of fifty thousand words. The length alone, it seemed to me, proved how serious he was about it all. Being serious and having writing talent, however, are not the same thing. His writing was truly awful. It wasn’t anything in terms of content. No. He didn’t even get that far. I couldn’t get past three pages because his technical was so bad. Simple sentence structure and grammar. At the beginning of page one he wrote something and at the end of page one he wrote something else that contradicted that. All on page one. This wasn’t a case of giving this guy a few pointers on the technical side of writing. He needed to go back to school and learn the basics that he obviously didn’t get the first time around. This too was self-indulgent crap because this guy impressed himself with his word count.
After those two I now tactfully refuse any requests to read another writer’s work. They say they want constructive critizism but many want nothing more that an ego stroke. They want to hear how great their writing is. I will no longer be put in the cumbersome position of figuring out what to say to someone who just doesn’t have the write chops yet.
With both of them, I didn’t tell them how bad their writing was. Instead, I encouraged them to continue to write. Hopefully, they each got the implied message that their writing would improve with more experience.
Someone else will have the responsibility of telling them that their writing has not yet reached a minimum level of professionalism. Hopefully, someone who cares enough to be honest with that person will tell them that they’ll be embarrassed if they release their stuff to the public and risk future damage to their author reputation.
No one in the public wants to read inferior quality, self-indulgent crap writing.
So self-indulgent crap writing is a wastes of time, right?
Consider this- one way to improve the quality of your writing is to go through a period of time when you all you write is self-indulgent crap. A personal journal. Really bad poetry. Short stories that just aren’t that good. It’s the time to just bang out a few tens of thousands of words and just get comfortable with the medium. Likewise, it’s the time to get the ego under control and out of the way. When it comes to writing, the only way to learn is by doing. Sure, some mentoring is needed to get a handle on the technical. But to get good at writing, there’s no short cuts. You just have to do it…and do it…and do it. A lot. Over a period of time.
And if that doing-it over a period of time is just self-indulgent crap, then that self-indulgent crap has value. Why? Certainly not as something that someone else would enjoy reading. No. Hell no. It has value because it gets one past the baptism of fire needed to become, not just a writer wanna-be, but a true professional author.
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Get your copies of Tales of the Vampire Hadley Price novels by W. J. Onufer, including the new nook in the series, The Family Eternal: Part Two, here-