(**EDIT** I was riding out a caffeine high when I wrote this. Later, when thinking objectively about my writing, I realized there’s no way, even at my best, I could compete with the popular authors. God knows that’s evident to anyone who reads my material. Don’t judge me too harshly for what follows…)
I have a low opinion of myself as a writer and yet I’ve always tried to take St. Paul’s admonition – not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought – seriously. I mean, I’ve taken it to be an admonition to think of ourselves as objectively as possible, without pride or unwarranted humility. So despite my humility, I think can compete with many of the popular guys out there, at least pound for pound. Or, I ought to say, paragraph for paragraph.
I think I could keep up with Steven King, for example. His Dark Tower series was horrible. The more the narrative developed, the worse the writing became. He piqued with “Wizard and the Glass”, which was a book-long flashback constituting a stand-alone novel. The next best, in my view, was his “Wind Through the Keyhole”, which was another stand-alone departure from the series narrative and was written after the series was completed. The writing was so bad in the others, especially the final book, it was almost unreadable. Cormac McCarthy is another example. He’s lavished with praise and yet, I’ve just finished his popular novel “Blood Meridian” and couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Ten chapters in, I still didn’t care about the characters and his sentences were peppered with cliched similes.
Now I’m not arrogant. I think I can compete paragraph for paragraph, but I readily admit these guys are better authors than I am. The fact I suffered through the prose of “Dark Tower” is testimony enough of King’s ability to maintain readers’ interest.
Here’s an analogy: there are doubtless hundreds of young girls more pretty and talented than Taylor Swift, and yet Swift has the right combination of voice, charisma, and a loving personality that her fans respond to. Comparatively, I have no delusion I can match Steven King as an author. I don’t have an intuitive grasp of pacing, or how to structure a plot. And I don’t understand the average American. I’m too different. There’s an arsenal of tools the author needs that King has and I don’t.
One of my weaknesses, as I see it, is a lack of patience. Maybe it’s my financial situation, but I can’t squeeze out the passion that hours of creative output and tedious editing require. It’s too much work for too little gain. Cynicism is my kryptonite.
Nevertheless, I’ve promised you all – my readers, God, and whomever else – that after 100 posts and 100 read books, I’ll write a novel. I’ve been numbering my posts to keep track. With this, the 10th post, I’m 90 away from having to tackle my sizeable project. I’ve been steadily reading as well: Graham Greene, Cormac McCarthy, a few books on writing (“Robert Frost On Writing”, etc.), and so on.
I’m sure I’ll be able to string together a few hundred pages of narrative, but who will care? Maybe my struggles with existential meaninglessness fuel my cynicism? Who the Hell really cares what a conservative white guy daydreams about, anyway? Unless the narrative is packed with action sequences, zombies, vulgar sex and violence, and all sorts of trendy, social-justice-depravity, who will read it?
Furthermore, I’ve been rejected by modern society all of my life. Rejected from every group of peers as an outcast, as weird, as unattractive. I’m the epitome of “uncool”; how can I expect success with a novel?
Well, for all that, there’s a small part of me that thinks I can tickle the ears of the Evangelical community in America. Who speaks for them? Frank Peretti? Ted Dekker?
Why not me?