Stupid Question #37

Recently another writer asked me (via email) how do I know my stuff is good enough for  anyone to publish? She labeled the email “Stupid Question #37.”

Rather than being a stupid question, it’s one that cuts to the heart of what it means to write.

No one wants to pour your heart onto the page just to have some faceless editor send you a form rejection on an otherwise blank email, right? No one wants to publish a piece of fiction you’ve bled your soul into just to see…well…to see nothing happen.

Why am I doing this? you might begin to think.

How do I know I don’t suck? Or do I suck? Yes, that must be the answer. I totally suck.

The human brain is deviously twisted to the idea that success means the world is merely humoring us, and that normalcy has returned when the wall of failure slaps us in the face with the truth.

The problem, of course, is that “good enough for someone else to publish” is a question that’s out of a writer’s hands. The answer doesn’t exist until someone else, specifically an editor, says so. Editors often surprise me. They hate things I like and like things that I hate.

All a writer can do is finish. Tell the story you’re working on today as well as you can tell it, then get it in front of as many eyeballs as you can. After that, it’s up to other forces.

I’m thinking about this because I’m getting ready to head to Los Angeles to be a return winner at the Writers of the Future. This should be fun, of course. Very little beats getting steeped in a community of writers. The question above made me flashing on an L. Ron Hubbard bit about what “good enough” means—which was, as I recall it: “any art that evoked an emotional response in a reader is good enough.”

I’ve always liked that.

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Posted in Daily Writing.


  1. You can trust me. Your writing that has been published that I have read (enough provisos for you?) is better than good enough for someone to publish.

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