Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On Being Brilliant

I'm in a happy mood right now, so I'm going to write a random blog post expressing my random thoughts.

Four exciting things first:

1. I got into Hampshire! Yaaaaay!!! :) Now to choose … Hampshire or Emerson, Hampshire or Emerson … Well, I have about a month to think about it. And it depends on a lot of boring money stuff and whatnot. Anyway ...

2. My ABNA excerpt is now up on Amazon! It's available as a free Kindle download. So you can read it if a) you have a Kindle, or b) you download the free Kindle app. If you guys would check it out, that'd be just splendid! *thumbs up* Thanks! Love ya!

3. This blog will soon experience its first guest post, from my friend and fellow teenage writer, Nellee Horne. She's 16 years old and is a self-published author! Here is her blog and a link to her book on Amazon. :)

4. One of my plays was chosen to be featured at a young playwrights festival this Thursday ... I even get to rehearse with the actors and stuff! *squee* I will most certainly blog about this. :)

Now, for today's topic ...


I had an epiphany about this lately, so I thought I'd share it with the world.

At some point (or at many points) all writers must wonder, "What makes an author brilliant?" Surely you've read something before that was so good, it made you want to tear your own writing to shreds. You finished reading, and you thought, "Why can't I be that gosh darn brilliant?"

We tend to use the word as if it's a God-given trait. But the truth is, no one is born brilliant. In fact, the world's most acclaimed authors are/were extremely critical of themselves. For example, James Joyce nearly burned his original manuscript of Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and similarly Vladamir Nabakov attempted to burn Lolita. Harper Lee threw To Kill a Mockingbird out a window after working on it for five years.

I don't know about you, but I find these things pretty shocking! To think the world could have lost some of its most amazing books because their authors thought they would never be good ... ! Ack, I don't even know how to complete the thought. It blows my mind.

But then again, I am very critical of my own writing. I doubt I'd ever go so far as to burn (or otherwise destroy) anything I'd written, but there are definitely many days where I hate my own work––where I attempt to write or edit, and I end up crying in a fetal position instead. (Well, not literally––most of the time––but you know what I mean.) Just ask any of my writing-ninja friends; they have to tolerate my whining every single day. Bahaha.

It's not that I don't believe I'm talented. If I didn't think I could achieve brilliance, why else would I write? Is it not the writer's life goal to change the world with one book, to make everyone see life in a new way? There must be some reason why I'm sitting here, banging my head against the keyboard ... Because I have something to say, godammit! I just need to figure out how to say it, first. I have to find my own voice.

That's what all writers want to achieve––the ability to express the meanings of life in a way no one has done it before. And as I'm sure you all know, it's pretty dang frustrating. You often have that feeling like "It's all been done before. Why am I so special?"

But the thing is, that's the feeling that helps you get better at writing. That's what drives you to keep trying. If you already said to yourself, "Hey! I'm brilliant!" you'd stop trying to get better. You wouldn't try anything new, and you wouldn't take any risks.

That's the thing about the world's most brilliant authors ... They don't realize how brilliant they are! It's the struggle to create something ideal, which drives them to try crazy new things in their writing. That dedication and courage is, ultimately, what makes a writer unique and unforgettable.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts!


  1. I completely agree with you. There are times when I just can't make myself write because I feel like it's just not worth it. But then I eventually keep going, because I enjoy it and I want people to see my story - even if a bunch of people hate it. Writers who don't hate their books at some point are either lucky or doing it wrong (haha). Being humble is generally the best trait to have, especially in writing. Personally, I don't want to read a book when the author herself says "this is the best damn thing you will ever read because I am the best damn writer in the world!" Yeah, she's probably among the worst.

  2. I just posted a blog that might kind of coincide with what the person above me said. There's a self-published writer who got all pissy over a not-that-harsh review on the INTERNET! Go read it and post comments on my blog or something with your thoughts, so I can post my own soon and not feel bad. lol!

    Anyway, I agree with you. I often HATE my own work, usually when I cannot figure out how a scene is supposed to play out. Beginings are tough that way. *pushes main characters, who grumbles and giglge accordingly* Certain people aren't helping much either! :D

    Thanks for posting this. The image of Harper Lee throwing TKAM out the window is helpful somehow. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your opinions, guys! :)

    @Alex - Cool, I'll go read your post! Ha, I know right? I can't imagine wanting to throw TKAM out the window. One of the best books of all time <3 But you can also tell Harper Lee must have worked her butt off to write something so astounding! Very inspirational indeed :)

  4. Update: Alex, I read that blog post you linked to ... Wow! Talk about lack of professionalism! That's exactly the kind of person I'm talking about. "My writing is just fine!" … Riiiight. lol.

    If anyone else cares to see this:

  5. I know, totally! It's just . . . really sad! I mean, REALLY sad!Like watching a train wreck, you can't look away.

  6. Brigid Darling . . . On the top half: You wrote a play? What's it about? Is it amazing? Can I read it? Will it actually be performed by this cast of yours?
    And on the bottom half: I'm brilliant. Born brilliant. I'm also perfect. But I'm a rarity, and I tend to agree with your post otherwise! :D

  7. I did indeed. It's about these two people stuck in a broken elevator together … and they talk about cake and marriage and stuff. Woohoo. Sure, I can email it to you! :) And yeahh, it'll be performed at the festival thingie. (It's only like ten minutes long.)

    Bahahaha. Ok, Seth. ;)

  8. Okay thanks! It sounds like . . . fun!

  9. Doesn't sound much like an epiphany. More like a (very mundane) realization.

    Also, what do you mean by "writing-ninja"?

  10. If you really have nothing kind or constructive to say, I'd appreciate it if you'd stop commenting. :)

    It's my group of fellow teen writer friends. It's what we call ourselves ... The Writing Ninjas.


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