Monday, March 2, 2009

I Suck as a Writer

I understand I am not a very good writer, so don't bother telling me.

I write because it feels good -- it's a catharsis, whatever that is. Some of the reason I write is because people who write worse than I do believe I should write because they can't. I guess it's like the toad who thinks a frog a prince because the frog doesn't have warts.

Suck or not, I'm writing. Maybe the repetition will make me better? We can only hope.

I may not be able to elucidate my thoughts the way I hope, but I think the gist of my ruminations is apparent. See? I suck.

My biggest problem is I slept through every English class I sporadically attended. Participles, dangling or otherwise, may as well be terms in quadratic equations as far as I know. I slept through math as well. Syntax and grammar are foreign concepts to my alcohol-addled brain. Don't look for me to study up on these concepts anytime soon, as I have higher priorities.

My theory on writing is you can get better without studying English fundamentals just by reading. I am extremely well-read if you consider I have consumed more than 100 titles in the Destroyer series.

I've also read nearly everything by Mark Twain (my idol), H.G. Wells and J.R.R. Tolkien more than once. Many popular authors such as Stephen King (who cannot write a decent ending) and Michael Crichton have surrendered to my gaze as well.

In fact, I've read thousands of books by hundreds of brilliant authors and yet I still suck at writing. I guess the answer is "Writers write." No matter how much you read, reading is not the same skill as writing.

One of my problems is that I don't know which writer to emulate! A joke about Ernest Hemingway is that when writing a letter to a friend he hadn't written to in a long while, he wrote a very long letter and then ended it with the apology that the letter would have been shorter if he had more time to write. The joke, of course, is that writing short sentences is much harder than writing long ones.

Should I write short, clear sentences or long, obtuse, multi-syllabic diatribes that obfuscate my true meaning so that only professors of literature may interpret my true intentions? If I try to write like Twain or Mencken will I expose myself as a fraud?

Anyway, you can't write outside your time or you will sound funny. Shakespeare was a great writer but nobody gets away with his manner of speech anymore. Shit, Yoda sounds like the bard.

I guess I'm stuck writing in my own sucky way and hoping that three hundred years from now college curricula recognizes my genius at expressing the harried syntax of my time. "Those poor bastards didn't have the time to learn proper English, and we all know by now how pointless any such attempt would be anyways." (Early Reader circa 2323.)

So, if you know where I've misplaced an apostrophe or where I've lost track of tense or, God forbid, used laid instead of lie, don't bother reprimanding me because it won't do any good. I'm a slow learner and half of what I learn doesn't stick, anyway. I took Algebra four times, scoring A's the last two, and still can't solve a linear equation. I've got a simple mind that thinks in common terms that have served me amazing well throughout my spartan existence.

Bear with me. I'll get better (very) slowly.

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