As a writer, you have to accept that most things you write will make you cringe like hell about a year down the track. Soon, you will find yourself in such a constant state of regret that your body will wind up into a taut coil and street-hasslers will take to asking you if you are alright instead of trying to get you to donate money.
It is alright. Writers are meant to be like this. You are not allowed to be your own fan. These are the rules.
Do not relax too much though. Sometimes your fears and insecurities are entirely warranted. Sometimes you will have a spark of inspiration, a fit of creative passion, and you will write for a few hours and then congratulate yourself. Then you will realise that your muse just took a dump on your brain. Sometimes you will write badly.
There is a side of you that cannot be allowed to escape to the outside world. There is a folder in your computer that is filled with dog shit that you should delete. You are doing the work that will drive you insane and lead to your inevitable nervous breakdown. You are taking a class in hating yourself.
Assignments for the Class of Regret
GORRAM DINGOS (Short Story)
Word Limit: Enough to count as a draft for your short story class that you never turn up to because you are drinking and playing pool every single week.
Synopsis: A Texan immigrant to Australia is haunted by a Bunyip that inhabits the billabong on his property.
Result: E (for Embarrassing). After failing to work out what a Texan accent sounds like you then use italics to emphasise words and describe the Bunyip. It is a complete rip-off of the one from Dot and the Kangaroo which still scares the shit out of you even though you are 22 years old. Maybe you should rethink your career choice if first year Creative Writing students cannot find anything nice to say about your work.
TAKING THE TRAIN IN THE RAIN (Poetry Portfolio)
Word Limit: No limit! You are an artist and can do whatever the fuck you want!
Synopsis: Write a million shitty poems when you are drunk and sad. It definitely will make you more attractive.
Result: M (for this is pretty much Masturbation). Alright, we get it. You have a troubled mind and you want to turn your pain into beauty. A villanelle about how your room smells like death and how you love it is probably not the answer. Stealing Lucero lyrics to write about how your not-that-serious girlfriend left you is not the answer. All this followed by a poem about how you wish you were in The Lord of the Rings is definitely not the answer. Instead, I just think you are trying to write badly to play a mean joke to your parents.
YOU COULD SAY THAT I GREW UP IN COMBAT (Memoir)
Word Limit: 1500 words hurry up the deadline for this writing competition is 4pm and you don’t want to have spent this entire year playing videogames when you are meant to be working on improving yourself as a writer.
Synopsis: Surely a memoir about growing up as an atheist with brain problems is interesting and innovative right? Man this is going to make you famous. No-one is this troubled.
Result: C (for Come on man, seriously?). I have to congratulate you. You have a wealth of material to draw on, a lifetime of interesting and unique experiences, and you manage to make it into an apocalyptic pile of shit. All you do is complain about how your country is racist, voice your daddy issues and then confess to complete strangers that your opinions don’t matter because you are probably bat-shit. You should probably delete this one before it does some damage.
Sam Maguire is a writer from Circumstances, Ipswich. He has enough brain problems to keep making funny jokes and enough dark tragic secrets to keep him drinking, smoking and looking tortured. He is the first writer to be featured in our Struggling Writers Residencies and also hosts the Stilts Book Club.