I was talking to another writer a couple of weeks ago and we were moaning about how neither of us had any real idea if what we were writing was any good or not. He said that he had 'no sense of the piece' (because he's all intellectual and that), while I said that I did: it was all crap.

Does anyone else have difficulty knowing if what they're writing is any good or not? Or are we all dribbling, insecure self-loathing weasels with 'no sense of the piece'?

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I'm always afraid that if I have confidence in something, it's because I'm acting like one of those deluded parents who thinks their child is perfect (sorry, when you work in education that "Not my innocent little Johnny" attitude is enough to inspire murder) when the truth is I just can't see the flaws.

Why do you think writers drink so much? It'll solve your manuscript insecurities and help with that foot problem, Stuart.
I know that what I write is utter shite. And if 99 people tell me it's good (which is never going to happen!) and 1 person tells me it's shite, I will say "There you go, I TOLD you it was shite." If anyone tells me something I have written is good I think they are just saying that because either they are a) kind, b) mad, c) kind AND mad. I want to hug them for saying so, but I don't believe them. I write because I enjoy it. If people like it then that's a bonus for me.
Ah yes - that's the joy of reviews as well. Doesn't matter how many are glowing, it's the one that says your writing is about as much fun as genital herpes that stays with you.
oh pooh Donna....I don't think I am mad....but your stuff makes me laugh so I am glad you write what makes you happy.
Well I know I'm (b) mad, and I really appreciate madness in others. If it is utter shite, it's hilarious shite and nobody does it better than you, Donna! Oh dear... I somehow don't think that came out right.
I think each story is absolutely brilliant when I begin, then it becomes absolute crap, then it becomes likable enough to send out somewhere, then if it's rejected, it's crap again, then I get a wee burst of confidence to tackle it once more, and the circuit continues. At the moment, I'm feeling that everything I touch crumbles into piles of . . . not good stuff. But tomorrow, who knows?
Sadly, I fall into the "I have difficulty knowing if what I write is any good or not" club. One moment I think it might be the most brilliant piece I've ever written, and the next moment I wonder if it is totally suckomundo. While waiting for my reader's feedback, I'm filled with doubt and terror. I definitely need validation. It doesn't get easier with each new book. At the moment my WIP is in the hands of my most valued reader, and I have to say the waiting is excruciating. Here's a quote by Lillian Hellman: "Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hope."
I think it's almost impossible to tell if our stuff is any good. It's all so subjective and we're too close to it. I go with the assumption that my opinion on my writing is largely useless. I have to find people whose opinions I trust to tell me whether I'm hitting the mark or not.

If my gut tells me something is wrong, chances are that something's wrong. But I can't trust it to tell me when I've gotten something right.
I can't trust my gut till it's editing time. Up till then it's my gut telling me to write all that rubbish in the first place. Even then, some of the stuff it's hated has turned out to be the bits my editors love the best.

Stupid gut.

Really it should go back to making strange gurgling noises.
I worry that my stuff (I'm not good enough to have 'work') is all complete and utter shite and I also have moments where I go cold and think there's something missing in my head - how else would I have come up with that nifty little torture scene and got it mostly right in one draft? I cope better with the thought that folk I do not know and am unlikely ever to meet might read my shite than the thought that people who know me and whom I might be required to look in the eye again might. There are times when the space under my desk looks very inviting indeed. And as for Jack Daniel's - or 'writing juice' as it's fondly known in these parts - it's every bit as necessary to my existence as red wine and single malt.
"red wine and single malt"

Dear God, Julie, tell me that's not in the same glass!
Nooooo!!! Do you see the dangers of a missing comma in a list!

I have been told that the only thing it is acceptable to add to a single malt is Spey water. I sometimes put a wee drop of water in the Laphroaig, but that's all. When I was in Hungary, many moons ago, however, they added coke to their red wine... and that tastes truly disgusting.


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