It turns out this love letter needs a prologue. So here it is.
I’ve known of MikeTheBlogger since he was born and certain of my siblings babysat him. I don’t think we ever spoke until a couple of years ago. To be honest, the only reason we talked was because a few years before that his mother (unbeknownst to him) gave me a copy of something he wrote. No expectations. Just, here. (But of course she was hoping for validation of her son’s talent. Which she got, only I don’t think I told her that because the words belonged to MikeTheBlogger.)
So, okay. I read his words and, unlike every other piece of writing that comes to me from people who don’t know me in my writing life, I not only got past the first page, I got to the last one.
I read them and I kept thinking, I can’t show this to my agent because it’s not ready yet, but I think she’d be interested if it were. So, not ready to show to agents or editors in that form, but in a couple of drafts it would be.
To my knowledge he didn’t do the drafts I hoped he would.
Then he started blogging and that same voice rolled out. Sharp and bitter, wrapped up in vulnerability. So I talked to him again. By then self-publishing had taken hold, so even though any of the Big 5 would probably buy a project from him, he had options.
But to my knowledge, he didn’t work up anything up that he got out there. Maybe he did, but I believe if he had, he’d have sold something.
Do over. Allow me to speak your language.
Dude, Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell, motherfucker?
Words are a gift for the writer who can put them on the page and make people feel. That’s your gift. And the very best writers are the ones who sit there in despair saying “I suck so fucking bad at this why am I even doing this?”
Because the words are there and they won’t go away.
And that’s where gap theory comes in. (We talked about this at your birthday party. I’m not sure you were sober, but whatever.)
The very best writers transport us, and the readers who are born with writing in their souls know those words are very, very good. And they see all the ways their own words are not. They forget they’re reading the written, re-written, edited, revised, re-revised, complete redo, re-edited copy edited and proofread version.
MikeTheBlogger, your worst words are better than 99.99% of the other words out there. You only see the gap between you and authors you love for their words.
Until you take a piece of dreck first draft work and work on it until you see places where it’s really good, and where you’ve actually written a story, goddamnit-how did that happen?-you won’t learn that your very, very good words belong. In your voice that is not anyone else’s.
There’s no guarantee of outside success in writing words. But if you have words in your heart, you should be writing them.