*Note: For the purpose of this post, “suck” is defined as being bad, shitty, terrible, worst-thing-ever, oh-my-god-this-is-horrible.
Everything sucks, not all the time, but everything will suck, or may, at some point. This post probably sucks. Even after a couple rereads and edits, it might be terrible, but it’s Wednesday and I need to post a Writer’s Alphabet column otherwise I get major anxiety. So this festival of suck is what you (and I) get.
Everything will suck. Everything also won’t suck, but let’s focus on the more negative side and flip it into a positive. Here are 4 intro examples before I get to the writing example for your pain or pleasure:
1) Your new job will suck:
Your First Day: “This is the best job ever! I am going to help this company change the world. I am going to be the best and my co-workers are the best and I love everything and everyone and rainbows, sunshine, unicorns, roses.”
Your Suck Day: “I’ve been here five years. If I don’t leave now, I may kill everyone. Not really kill them, just spend my working hours thinking of elaborate ways to do it. I should quit. Why am I here? I need money and the alternatives aren’t the best. I’ve spent five years here. Why would I go somewhere else and start all over? I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to put my head down on my desk and sleep until retirement…”
Your Last Day: “You all suck! This job sucks! I’m out losers! Woo Hoo! Off to find a job where the company will change the world and I am going to be the best! Sayonara slow death! Hello fast death? Wait. Huh?”
2) Your new relationship is going to suck harder than dying:
You Meet Cute: “This person is the best! I love them. I always knew when I met ‘the one’ it would feel different than all those other times with everyone else, and rainbows, sunshine, unicorns, awesome sex.”
Your Suck Day: “People are all the same. There is no special person for me. Maybe it’s me that needs to change? No, I’m the greatest. Everyone else is the problem. I hate this person. They smell and they dress themselves funny. The search for love reveals itself to be the river of turds I always knew it was. The next person I meet will be different. Fuck this.”
Your Break-Up Day: “You smell and you dress yourself funny. I’m out! Sayonara loveless, boring, hate-inducing partnership! Hello passionate, lively, funny, love-filled partner-in-crime-ship!”
3) Your new apartment:
You Move In: “This place is the best! There’s not a lot of storage but I don’t mind not having a closet. It will make dressing so much easier! And I get to look at my clothes! Rainbows, sunshine, unicorns, west facing windows!”
Your Suck Day: “I am going to set fire to everything I have. And to this ring-box of a space I live in. Even the big, west facing windows don’t help. The sunsets remind me of the ever-dwindling days in my ever-shortening life.”
You Move Out: “Sayonara coffin apartment! Hello mausoleum apartment!”
4) Your death:
You die: “I’m dead! This sucks!”
Belaboured point made. Now, for writing.
Writing is the only thing that starts off sucking and then gets better, outside of life threatening illnesses…so in my weird mind, writing is like a life threatening illness…why do I like doing this?
But writing SUCKS!
It can at least. My problem is having a great idea and then having to write it. If someone could invent a machine (not a ghostwriter) to take the “perfect” story in my head and immediately transfer it into a first draft, I would give them my organs. The first draft is the biggest suck fest in writing, both in quality and process. The grammar? Sucks! Sentence structure? Sucks! Lexicon? Sucks! Plot? I usually like my plots, but there are some sucky parts in first drafts. These are the reasons I attempt many and finish some. To avoid the suck, I am going to take the oft heard advice to “just get the damn thing down without an edit” as the editing comes later.
Writing as a product can suck. I write, and have written, some of the worst shit in human history. Sometimes editing helps, but sometimes the best editor is the paper shredder.
Now for the positive twist. Shit writing isn’t a death sentence. It tells the writer there is room for improvement. The improvement room might be the size of a galaxy – and if so, maybe Editor Shredder should be consulted – but there is always room. Improving terrible writing comes down to how much real work the writer wants to put into the project. Unsucking the suck takes commitment, hard work, patience, and hope.
As I’ve detailed in a previous post, not writing sucks, so avoiding the suck altogether is not an option.
The best thing we can do as writers is to push against the suck that pulls us down and, eventually, our best will prevail.