DEVIN BOND
Thoughts of a wanna-be author and student.


March 15, 2011

I Believe

As humans, we all get our doubts. It's a perfectly natural occurrence--one that I'm sure we'd all like to get rid of at times--and for some of us it happens a lot more often than we'd like. I know I'm one of that group. As writers, most of our doubts are pinpointed to the heart of our literary livelihood. Our stories. What if it doesn't sell? What if the chapters don't flow? Who besides my mom and dog (or cat for you cat lovers) will read this pile of words?! We all have our moments. (Don't try and say you don't.)

Comparing ourselves to others makes it worse. Not talking about it makes it worse. Butchering your manuscript for no reason makes it worse. Doubt is one of those monsters that gets fed by everything. 

And what makes it even worse? Someone telling you that you aren't good enough. This is the one thing as a writer--no, as a person--that I can't stand. No one, absolutely NO ONE, has the right to tell you that you suck. I don't care if they're a published author, editor, agent or whatever. I don't care if they're a chef, a world renown musician, a business tycoon, the president, your mom or your dad. I don't care. 

Your story can have more commas than words. (Though I hope it doesn't) It could have the blandest plot in the history of plots. Your characters can be 1D Marysue's. You don't suck.

One time when I was naive and a lot more selfish, I was with my niece (yes, my lovely niece pops up again!) and my mom. We were at some sort of parking lot--the details of this are fuzzy--and the radio was on. I was singing along to the song no where near perfectly and my niece started mumbling along to it, too. She was imitating me and at age four her adorable attempts at following the song were... well, I'm sure you can imagine. Me, in all my bitchy teenage glory told her to: "Stop singing. You aren't doing it very good."

........ Yeah. I told my niece--at FOUR-YEARS-OLD--that she wasn't good.

It took her until she was seven to start singing in front of me again. After lots of encouragement (because I realized what a douche move that was after the fact (and because my mom chewed me out for it)) she finally loosened up enough to do it. I could've made my niece never sing again. What if she grew up and had a beautiful voice? One that she was too afraid to use because I'd told her she couldn't carry a tune right at a whopping 4 years old.

Not saying everyone is like this, but you never know! You really just never know who's dream or future you could be killing when you say those fateful words.

So, no matter what anyone says--no matter what that little bastard in the back of your head says--You don't suck. 

You're not perfect. You might need a refresher in some of the basics of English. You might need to plot and re-plot for months. You might need to re-write your story sixteen plus times. You still don't suck.

That old adage "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."? Utter crap. Words are worse than sticks and stones. Be careful how you use them. You wouldn't want someone to kill your dreams, so why kill someone else's? 

Exception being if they dream on being a crazy, muggle-hating megalomaniac or any other such varieties.

Believe in yourself and believe in others. Sometimes, you might be the only person that does--and you don't know how much that could impact their life and yours.

14 comments:

  1. So true! People tend to judge others as inferior before they even think about their own failings.

    I hope your friend hops back soon.

    :-)

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  2. Great post! It's always good to give encouragement, even if someone is still learning. I'm learning things everyday and I hope I do for the rest of my life.

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  3. I great "hip hip hooray" to this post! So true.

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  4. Yes! Exactly this! It took me forever to realize I am not my book. If someone didn't like it but it wasn't something I could fix (not you have a giant typo on page 1 more like I don't like the main character) I would agonize that in addition to hating the book I sucked as well. Distance from the work is good but more important is self confidence. The book is good, just not for them.

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  5. I agree. It is so easy to injure with words when we are angry or frustrated. Even as an adult stuff sometimes spills out that I didn't intent and I end up apologizing for it (and kicking myself) because I know how even an apology can't remove the sting sometimes.

    We are all still learning, working and striving to be better. No need to smash someone's mistakes over their head.

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  6. What a lovely inspiring post. I've had my novel knocked, and was going to delete the actual post on my blog, but decided to keep it there to remind myself of the nasty people in the world. :(

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  7. Sometimes we read another person's work (or our own!) and think that person has such a very long way to go that maybe it'd be better to just tell them they don't have it and to stop wasting their time ... but then, who really knows?? If they, or we, continue to learn and grow as writers, who is to say that we will never get there? Telling someone that they suck, or that they will never be good enough, is the worst thing possible that we could ever say to them, or to ourselves. And believe me, it's something I struggle with in myself.

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  8. Many years ago, my college roommate told me I must be tone deaf because my singing was so bad (she wasn't a horrible person, in fact she was one of my dearest friends, that's just how she put stuff). Anyway, I'm still self-conscious to sing in front of other people. Luckily my husband and kids are used to my tone-deaf singing. You're right - words can really hurt.

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  9. Smart words, and you're right thy can hurt and even damage a person. You, as a teen, had to learn this, and I'm sure we've all been there saying things we shouldn't. But maybe you taught this little girl to be extra thoughtful? Who knows?
    Anyway, good to meet you. Crusader making her rounds.

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  10. Love this post, Devin. So true. There's always room for learning and improvement in writing, and giving up because someone tells you're no good could be the end of an amazing future talent.

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  11. Great post Devin. Don't ever think you aren't good enough. Believe in yourself, and things will work out. Maybe not when you want them too, but eventually they will. :)

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  12. I agree that nobody has the right to kill anybody else's dreams with careless words, but too often many of us say things without stopping to think about the consequences. It feels so much better to encourage rather than to tear down.

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