(Reed’s Playlist for the day: 1 Trillion Dollar$ by Anti-Flag)
That’s an eighth of a million words I’ve now dedicated to Symphony of Legend. By now, with all the combined novels I’ve written since high school, I’ve gotten down a grand total of 958,633 words. If I added in previous unfinished projects, short stories, and rewrites, I’m positive I’d be well over a million. (If you don’t speak word count, that’s approximately 4,000 pages depending on page size, font size, etc.)
Why am I jerking myself off on this blog? Because I’ve been feeling pretty shitty the past week or so about my writing. I’m nearing the end of Symphony – I have about 28,000 words left, or about 9 chapters – and I’m slowing down incrementally. Usually, I have no problem putting down a 3,000 word chapter every day, but recently I’ve been struggling to even make it to 2k and I usually end up writing half a chapter.
I read a blog post this morning by a woman with many, many more followers than me, written in prose much, much better than mine, about how she couldn’t make it as a writer and how she keeps dreaming big and writing knowing something will happen. Ironically, this “lift-me-up” article made me feel pretty shitty. I look at the sheer volume of blogs in the world – I can’t even find mine if I google “reed buck wordpress blog” – and I think, “It’s honestly kind of amazing that anyone found my blog when it’s so hidden and unnoticed.”
And then I think about me as an author, and I realize my blog is pretty much a symbol of me as a writer.
One million words, and I have learned a hell of a lot about writing. But it’s not nearly enough. I still trip over the exact same mistakes I made four years ago, and while my writing projects have become palatable, that still puts them a far stretch from enjoyable.
It’s so easy to get discouraged as an artist. Especially when you’re a writer and you can see all the other writers struggling online, trying to make it into the big leagues, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I better than all these other kids fooling around? What makes me rise above the crowd?”
Sometimes I can’t answer that question.
I just posted about how you know you’re a writer, and I think this expands the answer. It’s not just that you continue to write and to struggle, but that you do so even when you think you’re the worst piece of shit that ever put pen to paper. Somehow, even hating what you’re doing, even looking back at the trail of broken half-finished projects and juvenile ramblings that account for your early writings, you still continue.
I think I also posted about what to do when you’re down on writing, and so I wanted to do that for myself, right now, in my public sphere of the 41 people who care enough to subscribe to this (probably duplicate, probably completely unnecessary and repetitive and self-indulgent) blog.
I’m looking back on my own writings, at those flat characters and those silly plotlines and those unimaginative descriptions, and I’m saying to myself, I’m better than this. I’ve gotten better at this.
One million words may not be enough to make me great. It may not be enough to even make me publishable. But it’s a pretty damn good start, and it’s only been 8 years since that count was zero.
It’s a shitty job, being a writer. No one’s going to give you any breaks, and the few moments of pleasure – in completing a project, in seeing a reader reacting exactly the way you want to a scene – are few and far between. Mostly, it’s just a shitload of work and very little payoff. But we keep going, because it’s all we know how to do.
One million words, Reed. When you’re in that mood next time, think about it. One million words is a lot of words.
…Oh, you’re still here? Sorry, I guess I was muttering to myself. I… thought you’d left.
Or, in other words, GTFO so I can coddle myself.
Yours, riding those ups and downs,