Your Poem or Short Story Sucks
January 12, 2010 in Creative Writing
Your poem? You know, the one into which you have poured your innermost hopes and dreams and tragedies? Well, it sucks.
Oh, also! That short story–the one where you use way too many adjectives and embarrassingly and inartfully and utterly unsuccessfully attempt to ape (or perhaps in your mind “one-up”) David Foster Wallace/John Updike/Alice Munro/Ann Beattie/Anne Tyler/Joshua Ferris/Jonathan Safran Foer/Junot Diaz/Henry James–also sucks.
Your attempt to ape David Foster Wallace/John Updike/Alice Munro/Ann Beattie/Anne Tyler/Joshua Ferris/Jonathan Safran Foer/Junot Diaz/Henry James doesn’t even come close to the mark. In fact, it is unreadable.
I’m telling you this not because I dislike you, although I probably would if I knew you. I’m telling you this because, while I may not be an extraordinarily talented writer, I am an extraordinarily talented reader. And I know when what I’m reading sucks. Your work, unfortunately, falls into this category.
You want to know how I know when I’m reading something that sucks?
Think about the last time your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife or daughter or son told you a lie. You know that feeling you get, almost instinctively? What I feel when I read your poem or short story that sucks is that very same sinking feeling, that vaguely-defined disgust, you start to feel when someone whom you trust and want to love starts to bullshit you.
When you publish your poem or short story, both of which suck, anywhere on the internet, you are asking the reader who stumbles upon your work to trust and, indeed, love you. If you’ve published your poem, which sucks, you are asking your reader to trust that you’re going to take him somewhere unexpected, magic carpet-wise. If you’ve published your short story, which sucks, you are asking your reader to trust that you are going to entertain him, as if he were hearing a sad or delightful secret he never suspected about someone he loves.
But since your poem or short story sucks, what you’re doing is just wasting your reader’s time. You’re actually bothering your reader. And your reader may not forgive you for that.