Is a writer ever satisfied?



IS A WRITER ever satisfied?

Should a writer ever be satisfied?

Or are we destined, or cursed, to spend, or waste, our days in pursuit of a perfection that probably doesn’t exist.

I wake up in the morning with two thoughts on my mind.

Find a better story.

Write a better story.

I remember the one I wrote yesterday.

I wish I’d written it differently.

We’re all on a merry-go-round and trying to grab the gold ring.

We see it.

We know we can reach it.

I’m not sure the gold ring exists either.

During my growing up days, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter.

Chase the sirens.

Chase down a story.

Write it.

See my words in print.

On a daily newspaper, I could see them in print every day.

So I began my odyssey from small town newspapers in Gladewater, Mount Pleasant, and Plainview to the big one, the Fort Worth Start Telegram.

It had a circulation of more than 230,000 every day.

I had finally made it to where I wanted to be.

There were 230,000 people out there seeing my words in print every day.

I woke up one day and wanted to write press releases.

The stories weren’t as good.

The pay was better.

So I said goodbye to the daily grind of a daily newspaper and became the chief of media relations for the Texas Tourist Development Agency.

Title sounded impressive.

Job wasn’t.

All I did was write glowing press releases about the travel destinations of Texas.

After a while, they all sounded alike.

So I looked around and decided I wanted to write for slick, four-color magazines.

I left Texas.

I woke up in Alabama.

And I was writing for Southern Living Magazine.

It would become the hottest regional magazine in America with a circulation topping two million.

It couldn’t get any better.

More than two million people were seeing my name in print every month.

I should have been satisfied.

I wasn’t.

Now I wanted to write books.

So I wrote three for Southern Living.

My printed words were in bookstores and libraries.

Could it get any better?

I hoped so.

I wandered back to Texas and went to work for a custom publishing company, writing more than fifty books in the twenty-five years I was there.

Some history.

Some travel.

Some cookbooks.

All nonfiction.

There were my words encased in hardback books.

We sold millions.

I should have been happy.

But, no, I wanted to write fiction.

I wanted to write novels.

So now I’m writing novels.

Wrote a western.

I wanted to write a mystery.

Wrote a mystery.

I wanted to write a thriller.

Wrote a thriller.

I didn’t want to write so dark.

So here I am, and I’m probably no different from any other writer.

I love the book I write today.

I won’t like it tomorrow.

I think I can do better.

I damn well ought to do better.

I don’t even know why I wrote it that way in the first place.

I’m never satisfied.

I believe that when writers are satisfied with the books they have just produced, they have written their last books.

Take a look at this blog.

I’ve said what I wanted to say.

But even now, I wish I had written it differently.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    There’s a great difference between satisfaction and being satisfied with your work. The day a writer is satisfied is the day he or she will never write anything worthwhile again.

  • jack43

    As I worked my way up through the ranks of the ad biz from copywriter to creative director to agency owner, I discovered an interesting fact: Creative people don’t always look “creative”. Most arrived at my office clean shaven and dressed like they were there to do business. There were plenty of scruffy be-sandaled hippies who pretended to be artsy-fartsy, but I paid attention only to portfolios. Ultimately, the best artists/writers/photographers shared a common personality type; Obsessive-compulsive/workaholic/perfectionists. It’s amazing any of them survived past 30…

    • Caleb Pirtle

      And you were right there amongst them. How did you survive?

      • jack43

        My wife would drag my work out of my hands as I protested, “But I can make it better”. She responded, “It’s good enough.”

        • Caleb Pirtle

          She’s right. And so are you.

  • I always feel that I can do better, like what I wrote is not my best, even though I tried my best.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Woelf: You and I have similar guilt.

  • It’s the journey; arriving at your destination just isn’t as much fun as getting there. Only you don’t realize it at the time.

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