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Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Emotional Setback

Another emotional setback yesterday. You know? Those times I get every month and a half or so where I get morose and start saying "I shouldn't be a writer. There's no way I'll be as good as them. I'm so unproductive. My work is shit. I'm wasting my time." And so on.

This was prompted by writing a question on the SFFWorld boards about how important it is to read the 'essential' books versus the books I want to read if I'm to be a writer. I should know better than to be an amateur asking amateurs. All of a sudden people are talking to me in a very condescending manner. "You think Martian Chronicles was hard SF? Pshaw." "You should at least read this book (and this book and this book and this book and this book, none of which I've heard of or interest me)." "You need to need to read the classics if you want to be a writer. What are you, a moron?" and the one that really got me "avoid other writer's blogs".

That seems like the stupidest thing ever. Why wouldn't you learn how the professionals do it, how they got there, the advice that they have. They're accusing me of looking for a magic bullet, which I never said I was. I'm trying to argue with them, but it's difficult because these people are well-read and articulate and intimidating. It was so stupid I couldn't even start to make a response and almost decided to throw the thread away, start ignoring it.

And that's what sent me into a 'shame spiral' as we in the business call it. The two didn't even seem related, but I started getting conflicted about how people who seem to be smarter than me are telling me to do something which I believe is wrong, and I can't argue with them because I'm not smart enough and don't have enough evidence. Most people on the board appear to be strongly anti-'other writer's advice' and pro-classic sci-fi. Seemed the idea of suggesting contemporaries were as important as the old stuff was blasphemy and I should be boiled in my own pudding. And blogsI took it as a personal insult, even though there's no reason I should. I love the writers whose blogs I read, and to tell an aspiring writer that they're just self-promotion and hype is devastating. It made me feel like I was doing everything wrong still.

Now the thread has totally devolved into something not at all resembling my initial question, much like daisy grows into a 1954 Studebaker. I put up a post trying to wrangle it back, but I don't know if it's worth it. I thought the forum would be good pickings, but it seems like everyone's got sweeter-smelling shit.
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