A little help from our friends

Writers start writing for any number of reasons. They have these great story ideas that just won’t leave them alone until they get them down. They need to work through “some emotional stuff”. They think it’s an easy way to make money (boy are those guys wrong).

Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad

Whatever the reason is that a person starts writing, there comes a point where the aspiring author has to show his work to someone, to present it to the world and surrender to it’s judgement. All writers suffer from self-doubt, all writers question whether they are any good or if they should continue with this writing stuff at all. Many quit, or seriously consider it. And on that note, I’d like to turn to something that I found interesting.

After the publication of his first book, Almayer’s Folly, Joseph Conrad was in doubt whether he should keep writing. He “… was a victim of constant stresses, which produced a state of immobility”. Then he went for dinner with a friend:

“The only doubt I suffered from. after the publication of Almayer’s Folly, was whether I should write another line for print. …  One evening when we had dined together and he had listened to the account of my perplexities (I fear he must have been growing a little tired of them) he pointed out that there was no need to determine my future absolutely. Then he added: “You have the style, you have the temperament; why not write another?” … Had he said, “Why not go on writing,” it is very probable he would have scared me away from pen and ink forever; but there was nothing either to frighten one or arouse one’s antagonism in the mere suggestion to “write another”. And thus a dead point in the revolution of my affiars was insidiously got over. The word “another” did it.”

– From the introduction to An Outcast of the Islands, Conrad’s second book.

Had not been for this dinner, these words of encouragement from a friend, Conrad might never have written Heart of Darkness, or Lord Jim. So, remember to surround yourself with people who believe in what you are doing. It may help you in producing your Heart of Darkness.

Thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “A little help from our friends

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