Ray Bradbury wrote;
“Writing should come from deep inside you- you should go to the typewriter every morning and throw up- then clean it up every afternoon. I want the truth to come out. I want the great stuff from your gut to come out. I don’t want you to intellectualize- don’t think!- I have had a sign on my typewriter for twenty years that says ‘don’t think- do it!’”
I wish I had read this when I was a teenager in high school. One day, a few weeks before my graduation, my teacher after reading my story said to me.
“I wonder if there’s anything else you can write about?”
I had written about an incident that had moved me while I was volunteering at a community event. At first I wasn’t sure if he was being satirical or something until he went on and said, in the same tone, “I can always give you marks for grammar and spelling.”
That did it for me. I stopped writing for his class. Instead I asked a friend to write for me. All she did was copy and translate love scenes from a foreign language magazine and I would submit it as my assignment. The teacher was happy, he even praised me and complimented me on my “new style” of writing. There were only a few weeks left for school. So instead of screaming in his face which I wanted to do I let the days pass by. But I wanted to write so badly that I wrote every day and before going to bed at night, I tore the papers up for fear of anyone seeing my writing and judging me.
In the words of Erica Jong:
“Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged… I had poems which were rewritten so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.”
Oh how I wish I hadn’t listened to my teacher. Even though I believed in my work, even though I knew deep in my heart that there was more to my writing than just grammar and spelling, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I found my voice again.
Jessamyn West, author of “Friendly Persuasion”, said at a writer’s conference:
“You must be willing to stick your neck out, to take a chance, to risk making a fool of yourself and discovering you are a fool, if you want to write. I was afraid to write.”
She didn’t start writing until she was forty-three years old. That’s when she told her husband, “I will write twelve stories and send each one to a different magazine and they will all be turned down. Then will you let me write in peace?”
The first letter back from a magazine informed her that her story was great, but their magazine was for Armenians. By any chance was she an Armenian using a pseudonym?
“Was I going to let this closeness to fame escape? Certainly not!” Ms. West said. “I went through the Napa phone book, but couldn’t find an Armenian name. Finally I wrote and told them the truth.”
Don’t hold back! And more power and luck to you.