Writing Badly

images-1 Writer Anne Lamott says it’s perfectly okay to write shitty drafts.  How the hell can you get to the fruit of your story if you don’t start somewhere.

We all want to be brilliant our first time up at bat, but we’re rookies, even if we’ve already made it to the show catching a glimpse of what it’s like to be a respected, read and popular author.

Why am I talking in baseball terms?  Haven’t a clue.  Just watched a little Field of Dreams so maybe that’s it…if you write it, they will come.

I was working on a piece I planned on pitching to New York Magazine, a passionate three-ply idea I couldn’t let go of.  It was about a well-known woman I worked for in the 90s so wanting to bring back to life after going past her gutted double townhouse remembering what a colossal empire she and her husband owned, one I spent many hours in.  To see it leveled like Pompeii brought out the archivist in me, not to mention the dreamer.

I even contacted an editor I know who said, “Before you go to all this trouble, make sure the magazine is interested,” never occurring to me they wouldn’t be.

I then engaged a brilliant friend as a sounding board hoping to come up with that magic pitch that would glean me publication along with a nice tidy fee.

After settling into my fantasy, I reread my 40th draft as though I were drunk when reading the first 39.  It was awful.  It hit me, who the hell gives a damn about a woman dying in 1997 married to a porn master also long deceased from your point of view?

In hindsight I can blame this whole thing on steroid induced hubris.  I mean who the fuck am I?

If you were David Sedaris with a happy-go-lucky following maybe pages would turn, but sadly Susannah, your platform is no bigger than an anthill.

But that wasn’t even the issue.  The issue was the piece itself.  I held back in spots not wanting to be a wag considering all I know.  I liked this woman who already many times over has been ridiculed and raked over the Manhattan gossip coals.

If nothing else, I know, if you’re going to hold back, cash in your chips because people will smell it.  Anybody you submit to with half a brain will say, where’s the pulp here?  This won’t sell at half throttle.  You know what sells…truth, even if it’s dark and smutty and either you give it to me straight or stop wasting my time.

Yes, it’s when those lights go on at 2 in the morning and you realize you have nothing truly salable except maybe your ego you might consider willing to science.

It’s okay to write badly, the healthy part of me knows this.  A writer once told me, anything you pen is an annuity because it gets you from A to B to eventually where you’re truly meant to be.

I can’t deny it’s a letdown when your passion folds like a pup tent, but the good news is, there’s always a blank page beckoning to boldly begin again.

SB

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About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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24 Responses to Writing Badly

  1. micklively says:

    I don’t know what I think until I see what I’ve written. Except on the HHC, where it’s strictly forbidden, I always write it then change it.

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  2. Whew, the shit our egos try to drag us into sometimes is crazy. Glad you escaped that one. I’ve gotten away myself on more than one occasion.

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  3. I look at it this way Susannah… you are that much closer to writing something for New York Magazine, or any other magazine for that matter, than I am. That’s sad for me, but great for you! :O)

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  4. This article kindles my inner darkness. Thanks a lot. http://www.bellofpeace.org

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  5. skinnyuz2b says:

    How about a serial blog for us to read? The topic sounded interesting to me, Susannah. Unfortunately, we’re not a paying public.

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    • Kathy Keeton Guccione was the woman I wrote about now languishing in my files. She was married to the controversial publisher of Penthouse Magazine. Despite all the externals braying in their tawdry tones, she was one of the nicest, most generous women I have ever known. The problem with that spin Skinny, is no one wants to hear that end. They want the dirt. I’m just not that kind of writer I can see.

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  6. Elle Knowles says:

    Like you always tell me Susannah – just write. That’s the whole point and most times it always comes out for the good! A little nip and tuck here and there makes it even better. You get it as some people never do. And yes writing AND publishing is a process. ~Elle

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  7. TheLastWord says:

    Agree! If you can’t be truthful to the facts, the story and above all yourself and your writing they’re going to see it and lose interest. I started on my story, then realized I didn’t know how to write so I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to work out who I am, what my voice / style is, and what I want to say. I resurrected my defunct blogs just so I could work on that. I

    Last December the story appeared as a short story, suddenly out of the blue. I showed it to a couple of friends and then worked on the feedback. It grew, I thought it would be a novel, finally. Then somehow it became a 3-act play. It sits there now with Acts 1 and 3 written. In the next few months it may become a novella. Who knows! 🙂

    “A writer once told me, anything you pen is an annuity because it gets you from A to B to eventually where you’re truly meant to be.” That writer is right!

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    • A great story. It’s amazing what happens when you stay the course. Thanks for sharing.

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      • AZMike says:

        I know squat about writing, I know zero about Elements of Style, I picked up a pen a couple months ago and wrote. Good? Bad? Funny? Sentinental? Except for good, I am sure of the other three.
        I read somewhere that you did stand up for a good spell, I bet you could tell stories, tall tales and techniques. Laugh and the World Laughs With You, Cry and you cry alone? I want to laugh and “pass the Kleenex.” 🙂

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      • I did stand-up for 8 years…so long ago, but what it gave me was the page. When Bill Hicks died I didn’t think I could be funny anymore. Boy did I learn a lesson. Mourning, doesn’t matter how profound, shifts and doesn’t last forever, but I didn’t know that then.
        I lost my momentum as a comic, but…I write. We salvaged something…and you write…you write to me. I truly believe everyone has a story in them. Actually many…you’d surprise yourself.

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