I'll be honest. My journey as a writer has been a tough one. Full of frustration and self doubt, full of comparisons and rejection; sometimes a very tormenting experience. I've always been good with words yet there's a difference between being able to string an attractive sentence together and creating a story that moves and inspires people. It leaves me, constantly, pondering: "Can I actually do this?"
Then I read an interview, by Diriye Osman, in the Huffington Post with John Russell Gordon (I've written about John before in the Team Angelica book launch). John has recently been nominated for the Lamda Literary Award for his novel Souljah, so he knows a thing or two about writing. I was struck by some words of encouragement from John, as though they, themselves, were some inspired quote from a novel, rather than a spontaneous response to an interviewers question.
"...Write exactly what you want, as honestly as you can, and offer it to the world without self-censorship or compromise. And also: work hard. Start. Keep going. Finish. Be tough on your fancy phrases. Rewrite until you can't stand the sight of it. Then rewrite one more time. Claim your identity as a writer. Put writing first as often as you can. Don't expect to do this and have a comfortable, orderly bourgeois career-progression. Read writers on writing, read writers' letters. These are your spirit ancestors, your colleagues beyond the mirror. Welcome them in and let them welcome you."
Simple, succinct, honest and exactly what I needed to hear. I'll never know if I'm any good at writing unless I keep writing; take every criticism as a means to sharpen my skill (as opposed to crying myself to sleep and hiding in my bed suffering from a combination of atelo- and atychiphobia), read, research, listen and work bloody hard.
Thank goodness for mentors!
To read the article in full, click the following link: Huffpost/John