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WRITING: It's articles like this that scare the bejezzus out of me. It's a piece by David Sexton, the Literary Editor for the UK newspaper The Evening Standard about how most people who write novels shouldn't do it. It's completely true, especially this part:

In fact, almost everybody believes he or she might just be a good novelist, even if he or she hasn't got round to trying it yet. <snip> It is very strange. Nobody would attempt to give a piano recital without having first learned to play the piano. People realise they cannot make a satisfactory chest of drawers, or even a serviceable cheeseboard, without having acquired some skill in carpentry. They know they are not competent as dentists or plumbers, if they have not had any experience or training. Yet they think that they can write a novel by some natural gift.

The problem as I see it is that there's no way to know if you're going to be a good novelist unless you do it. Then, after you've spent some good amount of time on writing your novel and you figure out it's lame, you've just wasted a lot of precious time. I'm a believer in the idea that people who want to create art will create it no matter what but I also have bills to pay and want to pay them by writing. I'm not that weak-willed that a bad review or article like this will scare me away from writing but I can't help but have at least a nugget of fear about my skills until I start selling my work and stuff like this doesn't help. I can appreciate it as a reader (and a science-fiction reader especially), having read more than my fair share of horribly bad books by people who should be ordered by the law to never touch a keyboard again.