Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Critique: Fears of a Newbie Writer

I have no idea what’s going to happen after I post this. Whether it’s good, bad, or the ramblings of an idiot. I just opened a word doc and wrote what was on my brain at the time. Not even sure if it’s worthy of critique. But what the hell. Might as well see what happens.

Fears of a Newbie Writer

I’m scared of trying to be a writer.

I’m scared cause I don’t always believe in myself.

I’m scared cause I don’t know if I’m even educated enough to write.

I’m scared cause I don’t want to form an ego.

I’m scared cause part of me wants too, but another doesn’t.

One who wants to create grand new worlds

Or simple seniors and see where things go.

The other wants to just hide.

To look at the others above, and how I’ll never reach them.

I love stories. Love, Love, Love them.

In all shapes from text to screen, to computer.

With the right words, in the right order,

You can convey an idea that can open a persons mind.

That happen to me when George was talking about the rabbits.

A man trying to preserve the written word in a society that burns them

When a young boy living under the stairs learned he was capable to do great things

When an otter discovers his true sexuality.

When I think about them, my soul fills with hope.

These stories informed me

Mold me, and even saved me.

A spark begins to light up

Yes I can write like them.

With the right amount of time and perseverance

I too can write not only a story to entertain,

But maybe a story that inspires another to write as well.

Soon my mind is following with ideas

What to write? What the write?

But then the doubt comes in again.

The shadow whispering in my ear that I’m not worthy.

Wrong education, wrong ideas, wrong person.

How dare I think I can be something great?

Even writing this will be seen as nothing more then a cry for help.

A cry from a weak, pathetic, sad man with no time to commit.

Who wants to write about fluffy animals.

And sometimes the shadow wins.

It makes me push those thoughts away.

Got to think partially

And a storyteller is anything, but practical.

And yet, here I am.

Still writing away.

I can’t stop.

I don’t want to stop.

I just opened up a word doc and wanted to voice out my doubts in my head

To question myself if this is something I truly want.

Then the spark lights up again

Blowing away the shadow and the words come flying out again.

I’m scared.

I’ll always be scared.

But that’s not going to stop me.

Not anymore.

I want to be a writer.



Whether I’m good or bad only time will tell.

Till then I fill the pages with words

And who knows, maybe someone will like them.

This was very personal and moving; we’ve all been where you are, and most of us probably go back for the occasional visit! I especially liked guessing which books you meant.

There are a couple of spelling and grammar issues (e.g. you need an apostrophe in You can convey an idea that can open a person’s mind) but I like the stream of consciousness effect. The line That happen to me when George was talking about the rabbits (‘happened’?) made me curious, and increased the sense that this is a deeply personal piece.

The only bit that threw me was Or simple seniors and see where things go - do you mean ‘scenarios’?

Yeah. Spelling and Grammar are major issues with me. I try to look over what I do, but there are always several that go right over my head. Thank you for commenting.

Good start! Since you already have some favorite works, have you thought about trying some fanfiction? It can be a good way to work with characters you already know about, in a setting you’re familiar with, without having to make up all of the details yourself. I had some good practice writing for the shared furry setting “Winds of Change” ca. 2000 for instance; that’s a setting where you can basically write about yourself in the real world with a couple of fantasy elements thrown in.

For what it’s worth, I’m a retired auto worker with no college degree, and I don’t let it stop me from doing anything the heck I want to, including writing books that seem to do at least reasonably well from time to time. In fact, I’m on book #34 (I think, may be more than that) right now.

A writer must write first and foremost for him or herself, or so I see it. Just as a human must live for him or herself, in emotional terms. Generally I don’t much care what others think of my work, except in the critique-and-learning sense, just as I don’t much care what people in general think of me. If I allow others to control my activities via accepting their standards over my own, I thereby allow them instead of me to define who and what I am. Effectively, that would give others not only total control over my art but of the rest of my life as well, and painful experience has taught me that this is no path to success or happiness in either. Self-doubt is pure poison to creativity and overall happiness alike, or at least it always has been for me.

You are a unique, sensitive, clear-thinking and introspective human being with an obvious talent for language and a natural poetic flair in your written self-expression-- your original comment and the manner in which it’s written clearly reveals this. Yes, you may have to learn some grammar rules and hit the spellchecker harder than others, but we all have weaknesses; I started out and to at least some degree remain in that same category myself.

In short…

The only individual who ought to be empowered to stop you from writing is you. It’s perfectly okay to give up if you discover that wordsmithing brings you no joy. But… Don’t let the expectations and (generally ignorant) prejudices of others stop you. If you let what others think control your writing life, then the next thing you know they’ll also be controlling the rest of your existence as well. The only way to succeed in the larger sense of the word-- not just in writing but in all things-- is to simply do despite all the naysayers, internal fears, and irrational prejudices. Be willing to make mistakes, to crawl before walking. All successful people in all fields of human endeavor crawled first-- you just didn’t see it happen, is all. Their embarrassing failures and costly fiascoes might today be buried deep under their mountain of successes, but they most assuredly happened. And continue to serve as the foundation for all that came after, as well.

In fact, others have a vested interest in your failure, becasue if you don’t make it that validates their own failures. It becomes that little bit easier for them to give up (or more likely never try) as well. If I had a nickel for everyone (or every social institution) who told me I’d never succeed as a writer (or generally would never amount to much, period) without a fancy education or just because I don’t fit the “artsy author” stereotype, I’d be a wealthy man. Even my own family thought I was mad, that I aimed far too high, that it was “unreasonable” for me to spend so much time working at a project sure to fail, and that I should start a “normal” business like a lawn-service company or something else “achievable” by a man of my social standing instead, if I wanted something more out of life. When I finally did get somewhere, many became confused and even angry at me. I actually lost friendships and severely damaged at least one close family-connection via not having the decency to validate their own limited expectations and aspirations

So… Neither listen excessively to others nor take counsel of your own fears. Instead just do, if you find the artform suits you, and be brave enough chase your own muse and your own dreams. Because you’ll find chasing those of others to be about the least-rewarding way possible to spend your most-precious life.

Or so I see things.

As a cautionary tale, I always remember the story of Fox B. Holden. During my teens in the 1950s, I used to spend all my money on s-f magazines and paperbacks, and looked through the others that I couldn’t afford in my local drugstore and five-&-dime. A couple of the s-f magazines that I almost never bought because they mostly had second-rate stories were “If”, “Imagination”, and “Planet Stories”. I soon realized that one of their regular writers, Fox B. Holden, stood out as much better than the others. I got to regularly reading his stories, and I wondered why he wasn’t writing for the better s-f magazines.

Sometime around my high school years, Fox B. Holden disappeared from the s-f magazines. I decided that he must have died or switched to writing mysteries or Westerns or something, and forgot about him.

About fifty years later, after I became active in s-f fandom, I was talking with another prominent fan who said that he had recently met an old man named Fox B. Holden at some s-f convention that I didn’t attend. Holden had said that he was either a bachelor or a widower with no children who had recently retired from his lifetime job as an office worker of some kind. He had a lot of time on his hands in retirement, and since he had enjoyed s-f and even written it while he was in college, he decided to go to one of the s-f conventions that had appeared since the 1950s.

He had been a s-f writer like Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison who liked s-f during his youth and had written it for beer money while he was in college. The big difference was that after Silverberg and Ellison had graduated, they continued to write s-f, getting better and better, and eventually becoming world-famous authors with dozens of awards and getting top-dollar for their new stories. When Holden graduated, he had taken a job in whatever profession his major had been, and no longer had time to write. He had done well in his job, had gotten promotions and raises, but when he reached retirement age at 65, all he had gotten was a big farewell dinner, a guaranteed retirement, and the prospect of another ten or twenty years with nothing to do, and being an unknown man who would become forgotten after his death. He had considered returning to writing s-f, but he’d found that what s-f had become by the 1990s was nothing like it had been in the 1950s. More importantly, the s-f magazine editors and book publishers were no longer buying s-f adventures like “The Women-Stealers of Thrayx” (one of his “Planet Stories” tales). He wondered what might have happened if he had continued writing s-f, had become a more professional author over the years, and was eventually earning as much as his job had paid; and could be sure that when he died, thousands of s-f readers around the world would mourn, and his stories would be reprinted for decades or hundreds of years?

So yeah, do what you want to do. Don’t let others tell you how to live your life. One of the social pressures that Holden faced when he graduated was “to get a real job” with a “steady paycheck” rather than living precariously as a freelance writer. He did all right, but at 65+ years old, he had nothing to look forward to. I see that he’s still alive, and republishing all of his old stories on Kindle now; not trying to write anything new.

Ouch, Fred. That’s really sad - thanks for sharing. (I might check out some of those Kindle publications!)

Fred, you’re the most perfectly-placed individual imaginable to write this man a letter and ask for more. Please, tell him there are still many lovers of the Golden Age out here who still buy and love this genre, that Kindle means he doesn’t have to wade through a bunch of self-important asshole editors to to reach his potential fanbase, and that there are many success stories in the literary world with far less likely antecedents than his own. Hell, if he writes anything remotely furry send him here!

Please. It’d be a mitzvah. I bleed for and empathize with this poor man like few others.