What is the worst case of writing you've ever seen?
I have written, seriously, throughout most of my adult life. I have completed several books, and have made hundreds of submissions to agents and publishers. I had a good agent for a while, though she didn’t do much to sell my book. I have many glowing rejection letters, one from a major publisher who considered one of my books. I was a member of an excellent writer’s group in Columbus, Ohio for many years. I consider myself a writer.
Before I found the writer’s group in Columbus, I had tried out other writers’ groups, through the years, and failed to find a good one. It’s not easy to even find a writers’ group, but then frankly, when you do, there are rarely any writers in them. The worst one I recall was in a city to which I had driven 30–40 miles. We were going around the circle, giving each “writer” an opportunity to share a page or 2 of their writing. I recall that, when we got to “writer#3”, I was in a kind of agony akin to being physically tortured. I considered getting up and walking out. I eyed the distance to the door, and silently rehearsed my movements, but there simply wasn’t a way to escape inconspicuously. We were sitting in an intimate circle. So I soldiered on until the bitter end, at which point, I smiled wanly, thanked everyone, and got out the hell out of there as fast as I could.
But that was not the worst experience. Oh no. That was not the worst.
The worst experience took place duing a period of profound cultural deprivation and social isolation when I lived on my ex husband’s family farm with him in Ohio’s version of Siberia, an hour’s drive from Toledo. (I believe this was also the setting of the story in the paragraph above.) I was writing, and writing in a vacuum is not ideal. A writer needs a writing community. A writer’s group is the best possible community—assuming it is a group of writers—because you receive intelligent critique, as well as being required to formulate it, which sharpens a writer’s capacity for self-critique. But there were no writers’ groups where I lived, so, I was engaged in writers’ forums online. I was writing a book, at the time, and I decided to find another writer, who was also writing a book, with whom I could exchange book chapters and critique. That is when I read the absolute worst writing I have ever read.
This was several decades ago, so, I cannot recall specific passages. I recall sitting at my dining table with my face in my hands, just wanting to weep with sorrow for this godawful mess. If I were to recreate something of its general nature and quality, I might write:
Me and my friend BO was going over to pookie’s hous and we got stuck in the snow. Pookie wass what I call my sisetr. WE was goin over ther TO tell her wht we was dOinG but we was stuck in the Snow so we never got to Pokkie’s house.
I assume that the guy and I had communicated a little bit before exhanging addresses? I can’t recall how I ever got out of that one, probably because it does not speak particularly well of me.
And this is why I love Quora. What a group of great writers Quora has assembled. Through no fault of their own.