That Competitive Spirit And Why I Currently Suck As A Writer

I couldn’t tell you why, but I think the rowing machine (also known as an ergometer or erg for short) is the coolest thing ever. It seems that not that many patrons of the gym I use share my view as most of the time I seem to be the only one using it. Last Friday, I was doing my thing, trying to keep the calorie burn consistently above 400 per hour and feeling like I could take on the world when an elderly gentleman sat down on the one next to me.  I was a little concerned. He had to be at least 85 and didn’t appear to be all that steady on his feet. It took him a while to get his feet under the straps and when he reached for the pulley his hands shook. I couldn’t help thinking of all the medical maladies that could befall this overly-ambitious, elderly man and hoped that the gym employees were CPR certified.

But he started off pretty good so I went back to minding my own business. For a while. Then I realized that he was keeping up with me. At first I was impressed. Then I got a little bit pissed. He was an old man for Chrissake!!! So I stepped it up a little. I figured it was a good thing that he brought out this latent competitive spirit in my personality. I tend to not be very competitive, unless it’s Scrabble, and a little competition can be good. It makes you try harder. Right? He must have thought so too, ’cause he was right up there with me again and I’m ashamed to admit that all I could think was ‘This is not going to happen!’

This went on for a while before it occurred to me that if he had a heart attack from overexertion, it would be my fault. Even though I was petty enough to think it was all about winning, I was completely mortified by my behavior. But not mortified enough to stop. Thank God he did, because I’m not sure either one of us would have lasted much longer and there wasn’t anyone working at the front desk that I wanted to perform CPR on me. When he got up to leave, I looked up and smiled at him. And he GLARED at me. It’s a shame. Some people just don’t know how to be a good sport.

All that sculling at the Olympics gave him an advantage. Otherwise, I’ve would have blown him out of the water.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ve been in a mood lately. I’m pretty sure I write like crap. My characters are walking, talking clichés. My plots aren’t strong enough, my black moments aren’t black enough and who the hell do I think I am trying to write novels that someone else might actually want to read?

This self-deprecating funk isn’t anything new. I always get this way when  things get difficult and since I’m trying to get The Bewitching Hour finished so I can publish it along with its sequel The Devil’s Own Luck (notice how cleverly I slipped those titles in?) I am completely FREAKING OUT.  What if NOBODY likes them? What if my covers SUCK? Wouldn’t life would be easier if I tossed my computers in the swimming pool and got a REAL JOB? But easier isn’t necessarily better, so I’ll just drink another pot of coffee and keep plugging away.

Even Charles Dickens had bad days.

Words for every writer to live by.

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” – Red Smith (1905-1982)

 “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann (1875-1955)

“Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.” – William Zinsser (author of “On Writing Well”)





About Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas, author. Coorganizer of the Arizona Novel Writers Workshop. Member Arizona Historical Novel Society, Member BooksGoSocial Authors, Transplanted Texan.!/themodernscribe
This entry was posted in books, e-books, historical fiction, readers, Self-publishing, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to That Competitive Spirit And Why I Currently Suck As A Writer

  1. Clearly you need to hear it YET ANOTHER TIME….you are a wonderful writer!! LOL!

    Don’t cha just hate those doubting days?
    Seriously, it would be easier to chuck your laptop in the pool, but not nearly so much fun. AND you’d miss out on having all your cool, weird writing friends.

    Someday, in the not very distant future, you’re going to have all your novels selling on Amazon. Then you’ll be bitching about figuring out your taxes. LOL!

    • Thank you, cool writing friend! As long as I don’t let those wretched days of self-doubt make me quit, I figure it’s all a part of the mecurical process of writing. Happily, I don’t suck at writing today. Sometimes, you gotta fall down before you can get back up!
      I already bitch about figuring out our taxes. That’s one topic I’ve never been able to put a positive spin on!

  2. molly says:

    Sad man, hasn’t much time left to figure out the ‘joy of living’.
    Writing can at times be seamless – there you are cruising the word salad byway, characters assume life, plot effortlessly thickens – next you’re staring into space – braindead wondering ‘where to next?’ The creative process Diana, birth can be hellish
    cheers catchul8r molly

  3. Fortunately, that hellish state is always temporary and when you finally get it right, it’s the best feeling ever!

  4. I love the writing quotes–not too inspirational, but funny. You do that well–write funny stuff.

    I just did a Zumba class and got a panic attack. For real. we all have our crappy days, Diana. Tension Tamer tea is magic. Try some. Of course, you can probably drink something stronger. I would if I could some days! Like today…

  5. I haven’t tried Zumba. My daughter-in-law, who’s an exercise junkie, talked me into taking a Body Pump class, The first day I was fine. The second day, I decided I hated her. My thighs hurt so much, I had to walk down the stairs sideways.
    I’ll have to try the Tension Tamer tea. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Marcia says:

    Funny story! You must have had some look in your eyes when you were rowing so fast! Or he was way more competitive than you, probably thinking, “I’ll show this young whippersnapper how to row!” LOL
    I’ve had a week of pretty much the same feelings–should I throw this one in the drawer and forget about it, should I turn into a series, is anything I write going to be good enough?–yeah, but it does pass. Glad your mood already has passed.
    If you can find an arc trainer in your gym, try that out. it’s my favorite machine and burns tons of calories!
    Happy writing, Diana!

    • I’ve seen him at the gym a couple times since our ‘competition’ and I waited until he was through before I got on the rower. He seems to glare at everybody, so at least it wasn’t just me. I’ll have to check out the arc trainer out if they have one. It’s a big gym and I haven’t seen all of their equipment.
      I’m glad my mood has passed, too. But I think any writer who doesn’t question their ability on occasion, probably isn’t ver good.

  7. Denise says:

    You haven’t heard it from me recently, but I KNOW you are a good writer and I am looking forward to buying your books. Are you indie pubbing (aka self-pubbing)? I’ll need a kindle version because I am part of the dark side now. 😉

  8. Thanks for the encouragement. I’m indie-epublishing. I’ve decided it’s a good way for me to go right now. What have you been up to?

  9. Denise says:

    Sounds fun/challenging/rewarding. Had to take a break from Roxy, started working on a literary crime fic novel. BTW, if you ever need another Beta reader, hit me up.

    Did you see Changing Hands is having an indie author conference next weekend: ?

    Have you done very much research on indie? I totally recommend Joanna has some great podcasts and blog posts on indie pubbing which are free. And she has some not-free author 2.0 online tutorials that might be worth checking out. I trust her knowledge not sure i like the prices tho. Anyway, I’ve been schooling myself on indie too, just in case I decide to go that route.

    I haven’t read her blog but I’ve heard several interviews with her, and Robin Sullivan has a lot of great-sounding advice.

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have some nuggets as well, tho Dean tends to be quite opinionated.

    Scrivener is a well respected writing program that allows you to export your MS in kindle form and epub and all that in case you are doing that part yourself too.

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