The Path To Not Sucking

Slightly Muddy Trail

Watch your step.(Photo credit: jaybergesen)

The other day, I was looking through short story submission listings and I found one that I thought I might have a story for. But it was something I wrote back in the long ago that never found a home. So long ago that I couldn’t remember which of the four or five titles I’d decided on for it. So I had to go through my File O’ Finished Stories* and read a bunch of stuff from that era to see if I had one that fit.

That was a bad trip.

It was less ‘stroll down Memory Lane’ and more ‘get jumped and robbed by thugs in Memory Lane who then proceed to boot fuck you a little bit while you’re down on the ground.’ When I say that a lot of this stuff sucked, it doesn’t even cover half of it. To properly describe the amount of suckage, I would use all my words for today, tomorrow, and probably the rest of the weekend. But I won’t, because I’m going to need those words for useful stuff. Like maybe writing a story that I could submit to that anthology without wanting to die of embarrassment.

It was a fucking humbling experience. I like to think I’ve got some skill with words, but there was little evidence of it in these stories. There were ideas, sure, but they were couched in graceless language and as poorly executed as a mob lynching.

I decided to be depressed for a while.

Which was pointless. All it meant was that I got less shit written than I should have. But eventually, I came around to the truth of the matter:

The path to not sucking lies through a lot of sucking.

There is no way around it. You have to suck at something first. You have to slog your way through an awful lot of Being Bad At Shit before you find your footing and start on the road of Not Being Terrible. You’ll still fall off the path every now and then, but your footing will grow more sure with every step until you hardly fall into the mud of suckage at all.

But you still will. Sometimes. Because no one’s perfect.

And as you’re lying there in the cold wet mud, you can either give up and drown, or get your ass up and try to find your way back to firm ground. It’s your choice.

Just remember to keep those old missteps around. So that, every now and then, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

*In my head, it’s a digital version of the Island of Misfit Toys


5 thoughts on “The Path To Not Sucking

  1. The moral of the story is to start as young as possible. You should see some of the laughable garbage I churned out as a kid. Sadly, that’s possible for almost anyone to do, because some of it was published in that series of kids’ anthologies they used to do at CBU :S

  2. NIce entry. I think a lot about the idea (from Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell) that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to get to be really good at anything. As far as writing goes… that seems about right.

    Thanks for sharing.

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