This is a guest post that originally appeared on my former Blogspot blog. It was written by Scott Morgan, who at the time owned the Write Hook: Writing for the jugular blog and was the author of Character Development From the Inside Out and Short Stack. It seems that Scott has since quit the writing game, which is unfortunate. He was one of the most talented writers I ever encountered, and his Stories My Evil Twin Made Up was one of the most enjoyable books I ever read.
Back in the day, we exchanged some blogs about writing. Scott’s words are still valuable for all aspiring and working writers, as well as readers.
What’s holding you back?
I don’t give advice. Smart people don’t need it and stupid people don’t take it.
But I’ll diverge from my normal path to offer one piece of advice to anyone out there wishing he (or she) could be a better writer: Listen to yourself.
Well, smartass, it is. You see, whether you want to believe it, you know what’s best for you. If there’s something holding you back, it’s fear of upending one or more aspects of your life–which, often enough, is a life that’s not making you as happy as you want it to in the first place.
So when it comes to writing, what is it that’s holding you up? Afraid people aren’t going to like what you wrote? ‘Cause I got news. They won’t. Not all of them anyway. But do you really care about that? I mean, if you’re a shortstop, do you really care who won the Super Bowl?
Or are you afraid of offending someone? ‘Cause I got news for you. You will. Somewhere, some prick will always be offended by something you say, no matter what you say. Your fear, probably, is that you don’t want to be confronted with it.
I sympathize. I don’t really care what kind of crappola people think, but I never want to listen to it. So I dig.
But here’s the thing—without risking the occasional brush with crappola, you never get to the sweet, soft center of where you want to be. Because as much as some people will hate every word you say, more people than you expect will like you. They will support you and believe in you and champion your cause. But it takes a willingness to slough away the rust that’s holding you up and a willingness to embrace a certain amount of distaste for the chance at finding out who you really are as a writer.
An online friend of mine (author Carey Parrish) reviewed my short fiction e-book Short Stack on Amazon. Somewhere in an entirely positive review, Carey said this: “A talent like his is too much to keep secret and fortunately he isn’t inclined to try.”
I was floored. And I had to laugh, because until I got the hell over myself, I was completely and religiously disinclined to try. The first 99/100ths of my creative life have been swallowed by my belief that my creativity is mine and mine alone. That you weren’t good enough to hear it. And that just because I wrote, it didn’t mean you had to read it.
But what that belief really translated to was that I had no balls. I hid because I was afraid someone would tell me I sucked.
Getting over myself
When I decided to stop wishing I was dead and start wishing I hadn’t spent my life attempting new and exciting methods of self-destruction, I found an interesting thing had happened–I wasn’t afraid anymore. I decided that the world did need to hear what I had to say, because somewhere one this pale, blue dot would be someone (even if only one) who would say “that’s what I wanted.”
When I got the hell over myself, I sat down and wrote Character Development from the Inside Out with one hand while fighting off the dread that I had nothing important to say with the other. And when I asked a publisher to read it, an amazing, unexpected thing happened: she said yes. And when she published it, I got speaking gigs.
And I got readers. Enough to put the book on one of Amazon’s bestseller lists.
Do you know how many books I started before I got the hell over myself? Tell me, please, because I’ve lost count. I finished two of them, but neither saw the light of day because they weren’t me. They were me trying to be something I’m not.
So. Do yourself a favor: listen to yourself. You’re the only one who knows what you really want, and if you take yourself out of the running to get it, no one is going to put you back in the race. Go out there and get it. Keep failing and keep trying. Keep risking and keep writing. You’ll be surprised where the current takes you if you bring your own oars.
I don’t know where Scott Morgan got to. So Scott, if you’re reading this, or if you’re someone else who knows him, please help me reconnect.