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  • Writer's pictureTam Chronin

I'm a Terrible Writer

I am a terrible writer.

I mean, I enjoy what I write most of the time. And most of the people who have read what I write have enjoyed it.

But, I've done everything wrong.

I wrote fanfic. That vile, disgusting underbelly of free stories that pervert the IP to a new vision of possibilities unintended by the originator of the story. I've turned straight characters gay, and gay characters straight. I've played "what if" with some of your favorite characters. I've killed main characters and brought back the dead. I've put fantasy characters into sci fi settings willy-nilly with no regard to how they'll fit in, out of sheer whim.

I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a social, self-challenge to write 50,000 words of story in one month. Established authors around the world scoffed and mocked (and some still do.) "What about quality? How dare these people call themselves writers when they feel free to write tens of thousands of words of crap! What's to stop them from copying and pasting the same word over and over until the word limit is reached, just to be able to claim a win?" One year (my fourth and final win as of this writing) I wrote a fanfiction, wherein I copied and pasted entire paragraphs within the body of the text. It was integral to the plot, I swear, but I cheated and used shortcuts to make that story happen.

I bypassed the gatekeepers and self-published. I know people who are genuinely concerned about me for doing that. "Don't worry, I'm sure you can get published some day." "I am published. Now." "You know what I mean. I'm sure a publisher will accept you if you keep submitting." I don't plan on submitting to a publishing house. I don't want the approval of the gatekeepers. I don't want to pay someone potentially tens of thousands of dollars just to tell me that I wrote something they deep acceptable for print. Oh, not upfront. If someone demands payment upfront from an author for the privilege of publishing their words, it's a scam. But, traditional publishing takes a pretty huge cut with no guarantee they'll even publish your book. Some have been known to buy a book in order to keep it from competing with another author. I've chosen to take a hard pass, even though it makes my job harder.

I'm writing because I love to share stories. I'm not writing to get rich. I'm writing because I want to share my thoughts and ideas, and to change the world by getting my ideas into the right hands to change the world. It's a subversive act for me. I want to make the world a better place.

Of course I want to make a living doing so. I have to live somehow. I have a family. Making enough to get by would be super fantastic, and I wouldn't turn down piles of cash. Money makes life a lot easier.

But I am a terrible writer.

I write with the expectation of getting paid.

I write without demanding pay.

I write without approval of those who have the power to tell me my worth.

I am not afraid to write garbage.

I wrote ideas in someone else's playground without permission.

And I am not afraid to break rules that make no sense to me.

I've already experienced bad reviews. A one-star review on Amazon warned people away from wasting their money and time on me. Several fanfic reviews over the years have informed me that I am a terrible human being who should be ashamed to draw breath. I've been everything from boring to an embodiment of evil.

But, I've been sharing my stories online for nearly twenty years. In that time I have grown. I have improved. I have never given up.

I have gathered fans. I have made life-long friends. I have changed lives.

I have written a plethora of words.

I'm a terrible writer.

But I'm damn good at it.

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