The Writer magazine had a special writing booklet you could buy for $4.95 full of interviews with well-known writers in their monthly "How I Write" section. Of course, I bought it. $4.95 for a bunch of writerly wisdom? I'm there.
While reading Chang-rae Lee's interview - author of the novels Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft, - something caught my attention.
In his advice to writers, he said, "...be kind of stubborn about your writing and ...be very critical of it. I know immediately if the younger and beginnings writers I meet are not good writers because they tend to like their stuff. Most every professional writer I know is very critical of their material, even after it's published, even after it has won prizes, because they're constantly looking for other possibilities to push their form." (p. 6)
Are you critical of your writing? I most certainly am. In fact, while reading through my first ten chapters tonight, I kept thinking, this isn't good enough. It's just not good enough. But I've thought that about a lot of my stuff that's been published and people apparently like it (so far!).
So here's an interesting question. If you absolutely love what you've written - does that mean it's not any good?
For me, when I complete something, I usually have a feeling of general satisfaction. There may be certain parts of the piece that I absolutely love, but I generally do not absolutely love the entire piece. Does that make sense? I remain critical of it, knowing that I could have done this, or said it this way or that. But at some point, you just have to stop editing.
What about you? How do you view Lee's comment? Do you believe it is possible to completely love a piece you've written and for that piece to be good? Or do you strongly disagree with Lee and think that such an attitude is self-defeating?
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