What do you do when you realize your dreams aren’t going to come true? That you’re not very good at the thing you love the most? It’s depressing, and it’s what I’m dealing with right now.
I’d describe myself as a self-taught writer. I never did that great in English in high school or university, never had a teacher tell me I was a good writer. I started doing it out of loneliness, as a coping mechanism. I have seven novels written that I think are good, but I have no idea if other people, real writers, would think they’re good.
So I decided to take a night novel writing class to learn some new things and hopefully become a better writer. Out of the six people in the class, I’m the one who’s written the most novels, but I’m the weakest writer in the class. It hit me when the class workshopped two excerpts of two different novels I’m working on.
The first one they looked at is my favorite novel, the one that I love the most and feel is my best. They didn’t like it. They thought it sounded unrealistic, the characters sounded too juvinlie, my female lead too perfect and beautiful, and the writing weak. The teacher could tell that I’m not the best at grammar. The main criticism I got was in my writing I “show and don’t tell.” I still don’t really know what that means. I think it means that I summarize events instead of showing it in the characters actions. I didn’t even realize I did it and changing it is so difficult.
Last night, they looked at a new novel that I started just a few months ago. They liked it a whole lot better than my other novel (which was surprising to me, since I’ve been working on the first one for two years and the new one for only a few months) but the criticism was the same, “showing and not telling.” The teacher had to even sit with me and explain basic things about writing that other people in the class just understood. I felt like an idiot.
It feels like my dreams are crashing down around me. One student was told that her novel is so good at this point she should start “seeking out publication.” That’s what I want to do. And now I know it’s not going to happen.
I feel like giving up. I’m looking at all the books and short stories I’ve written over the years and think they’re shit. How can I be a writer if I don’t know grammar? Or how to spell? I don’t even know what exposition means.
I’m not saying that I regret taking this class. It’s been a good experience and I learned a lot. But my spirit is crushed.
I don’t know what I’m going to do now.