I feel there are two types of writers that can make you feel absolutely miserable about your existence; the first type is the kind that writes so beautifully, that every second line of theirs feels like poetry in motion, the second type is the kind that cannot write for shit.
In the Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris”, there is a scene where the Protagonist who is an aspiring novelist meets Ernest Hemingway. If you have not seen the movie, it is basically a fantasy film, where every day at midnight the hero magically finds himself in the past – the Paris in the 1920s. So when in the past he meets Hemingway, he is so overwhelmed and excited, he asks Hemingway to read the draft of his novel and give him his opinion. Hemingway immediately says “my opinion is that I hate it”. The hero is baffled and responds, “but you have not even read it”, to which Hemingway says “if it’s bad I will hate it because I hate bad writing, if it’s good, I will be envious and hate it all the more”. That scene totally cracked me up; it was easily the most honest and funniest dialogue in the movie. And that is almost exactly how I feel about the extremities of writing. Mediocre writers barely inspire any kind of feelings in a fellow writer.
The last piece of fiction I read was “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini and I was in awe of his style of writing. His thoughts flow so fluidly into words and almost every second page has something quote worthy. And given that the novel has been recently written, it is quite an accomplishment because as a writer these days you feel like probably everything you are going to write has already been written, even this.
Only day before yesterday a friend shared with me a piece of poetry that I thought was very nice. I was quite impressed and obviously thought he had written it, but he clarified that it was not him. He however also added that he was very much capable of writing it, because it was very much his style. The conversation reminded me of another movie where one of the main characters who plays a school kid was punished for passing off a Pink Floyd song as his own work at a talent competition. He even wins the competition, but only later do they (teachers) realise that he had ripped off a Floyd song. When questioned on why he did that, he says he felt that he could have written that song, so to him it felt like it was his own song. It’s the sort of feeling that writers get when they read a great piece of fiction and wish they had written it. I suppose of lot of us have had the experience of wanting to write about something very specific but leaving it for later and then completely forgetting about it, only to realise days, weeks, months or even years later that someone else has written about it already.
Procrastination can be a real pain for writers, so when you think about a great idea, you should work on it. If you do not, sooner or later, someone else might get the same idea and get it published. They will be either amazing or really terrible, and either way, you are going to hate them.