I got sent to this article through a Twitter post yesterday. It poses a dilemma that I’m certain most writers have had. I know I have:
Every writer has those stories and books that make you want to cry uncle, that convince you that the stories you want to tell have been told before, and better. I was only halfway through Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed with Magellan when I decided I should just give up on writing altogether; that the intimacy he achieves with childhood and adolescence was more than I could ever imagine accomplishing, and I wanted to leave it to him, a far more lyric, braver writer than I would ever be.
In short: why write when other writers are so much better? I fully agree with the answer posted, that we all have stories only we can tell. That’s a vitally important thing to remember. However, I have my own answer to that question.
Because everything is cyclical.
At one point, those writers who I admire were just starting, putting their first words to paper, and reading their favorites. And some, if not all, hit that point where they asked “why do I think I can ever be this good of a writer?” Then they kept writing anyway, and became the author I marvel at while reading. I’d be flattering myself to say one day I’ll be the other a younger writer is reading and wondering, but there’s too much potential I’ve seen in the new crop of writers coming up on this site and others, some of us will be those writers.
Because we kept trying.
And in the end, I think that’s the difference between being a writer and not. Being a writer means reading those works that make us go slack jawed by their beauty, their humor, or their turn of phrase and not saying, “well, I could never do that.” Rather, being a writer means reading those works and saying, “well, I guess I need to try harder.”
And then trying.