There’s a great comic strip from The Oatmeal about creativity. Rachael often likes to quote from it when she’s having one of her “I’m a hack!” days (“creativity is a river”). Typically, I’m okay with not having to remind myself of that, because I’m not making a serious effort to break into a writing market. I write when I feel like writing, and I’m usually content with whatever I produce. Sometimes I go for weeks or even months without doing any new fiction or looking at my old work, and that doesn’t usually bother me.
Today I felt a little different.
See, Rachael’s having a lot of success with her writing recently, what with getting several nanofictions and a microfiction produced on The Drabblecast, and she’s also turned out some stellar longer pieces recently (she’s not published them yet, so I can’t tell you about them, but I think they’re awesome and have a great, green envy monster hanging over my shoulder when I read them). I’m incredibly happy for her, and I love that she’s seeing some success. For me though, I feel a little bit unimpressive by comparison.
I haven’t published anything except what I post on my blog. I don’t devote sizable portions of my free time to practicing with new pieces of fiction. I don’t even tinker with stuff that I’ve already written. Though I claim the writer label, I’m not a very good practitioner of the art form.
Keep in mind that I’m talking mostly about fiction here; my blog’s been a great outlet for writing nonfiction, but that usually boils down to expressing my opinion, which I’ve been doing for about twenty-five years in one form or another. It doesn’t really take the same kind of effort as fiction writing.
So coming back to today.
That flash fiction contest that I mentioned I had entered has been going along great for about a week now. There’ve been a lot of really good stories posted, and I’ve gotten a kick out of reading and commenting on them over at the Escape Artists forums (a side note: you’ll have to register and comment once in the forums before you can view the stories). The only thing is that my submission’s not doing as well as I would have liked (I can’t say hoped, because my entry was very much a last minute thing that I did one rewrite on before submitting it), and it’s left me feeling less than confident in my fiction skillz.
My feelings on the matter really are stupid though, because I know full well that I didn’t put in very much effort in the first place.
Still, I’m left with this feeling that I need to justify myself as a fiction writer, but I’m at a loss for ideas. Creativity is a river, but mine feels like a dried up bed. So here I sit, staring at a blank page, wanting to make something up, but feeling like all I can do is give you my opinion.