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At a writer’s group meeting, a fellow member was discussing his work from several years back, lamenting how it all sucked.
I told him, “GOOD!”
He was confused. How is that possibly good?
Two reasons: he’d improved his writing over time, and he’d recognized as much.
Do you ever cringe, looking at stuff you worked on years earlier? Some of my writing from high school and college, ugh- the prose is so purple, it craps violets. In college, I got down on myself for not having finished anything I could try publishing. Thank goodness I hadn’t! Even now, with a few publication credits to speak of, I’m pushing limits and working on weak points.
When will it suck?
Any time you’re on the path to becoming better at something. Sucking just means there’s room for improvement, and there will always be room for improvement because none of us are perfect.
There’s no shame in it. The important thing is to keep practicing and taking good criticism into account. Your efforts will suck less over time.
Notice I frame it in terms of it/they. IT (the work) sucks. YOU don’t suck- EVER- unless you stop trying.
Whether you can devote a sufficient amount of effort to something isn’t always in your control, but there’s a lot you can do to make room for practice. To get really good at one thing, you may have to put several other things aside. If you can’t, you may have to accept remaining a dabbler in that particular realm.
This new [painting/drawing/etc.] sucks!
First tries are supposed to suck! Even a pro needs several tries at making a new stitch, writing a new scene, or rehearsing a new song to get it right. There’s a level of talent you hone over time, but each individual project has its own path from suckage to greatness too.
That path can be full of obstacles, soaring highs (“OMG this is awesome I rule!”), and crushing lows (“I can’t string a sentence together today- I’m the worst!”). It’s tempting to give up during the lows, but those who persist are the ones who go on to become talented.
So, suck away. Don’t feel bad about it. And when you’re feeling your suckiest? Suck some more.
My bike was stolen from my garage (?!) this weekend. If this blog post sucks, that’s why. I’m numb and cynical and have no words in me right now. If I had my druthers, I’d be moping under some blankets.
It’s OK to feel bad and take time to process a hurtful event, but how long can you let it go on? How much more time and happiness will I let that thief steal?
Getting back into routine is the fastest way out of this slump- so, I’m blogging, and drafting. It all sucks, but it’s nothing I can’t fix later. I’m having trouble finding the quote, but there was a professional baseball player who once said something along the lines of, “Being a professional means doing what you love when you don’t want to.”
Don’t give up! Forge ahead.
Here are some favorite examples of fictional characters rebounding from those “I suck” lows. First, the episode “I Am The Night” from Batman: The Animated Series. I can’t find the full episode anywhere, but here are some important clips:
Unfortunately, this video cuts short of the best part: Dick Grayson/Robin telling Batman, “You taught me everything I know about crime fighting, Bruce, but the most important lesson was to never! Give! Up!” Batman snaps out of his funk in time to save Commissioner Gordon’s life.
Here’s a lighter example from one of my favorite movies ever, Tommy Boy. “Forging ahead” after dozens of failures allows Tommy to make his first “sale.”
OK- one more, ‘cause I could use the laugh. Watch how The Tick bounces back after getting kicked out of his apartment for wrecking Arthur’s credit score. (But crime chemicals, you guys!)
That’s all for now, kids! READ A BOOK!
How do you forge past low points and beginner suckage? Feel free to leave me a note in the comments!