After reading the blogosphere talk about how young writers suck (and, to be fair, in the case of the youngsters, it’s a lack of experience and self-awareness of the suck), it was Matt Cheney’s commentary on the discussion (via John Scalzi and Justine Larbalestier) that gave me the most pause. He talks about how he remembers his youthful writing with some fondness because it was charged with enthusiasm and vigor for the act of writing (and Ben Rosenbaum’s comments ring with the same awareness as well).
This all comes at a time when I’ve just come through a period of wondering why I write–what’s the point? what’s the goal? how much will I settle for when they show up with those sacks of cash?–and rediscovering that a large part of the reason is still for that incredible joy of making shit up. And, in doing so, surprising myself.
I mean, I surprise myself all the time with the stupid things I do. I might as well hit a few good notes along the way.
So, young writers suck. Old writers suck. I sucked today. I’ll suck tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll suck next week. Probably even into next year. Hell, I’ll transmigrate through the great duck / frog / dolphin / wildebeast / shrew cycle, and still suck as a writer when I get another shot at opposable thumbs (for the space bar on the keyboard, naturally, who uses a pencil anymore?).
But, at 6:48 this morning? I didn’t suck. And yesterday, somewhere between Kent and Sumner–you’ll have to forgive me with the exact details of the location, I tend to lose track of where I am during the train ride–I had another moment of non-suck. That’s two, in as many days. I’m going string a bunch of those together, and call it a book.
When I first read Nabokov’s Lolita, I stopped after fifteen pages, and spent the rest of the evening writing (maybe even the rest of that week). Why? Because he was 56 when Lolita was published in the US; I, reading the book some forty-odd years later, wasn’t. And, in fact, I had a good two and half decades to bang out those millions and millions of shitty practice words I had in me before I could start thinking about writing something GOOD.
So, back to work.