The Suckage Quotient Or How I Found Out I Suck At Writing

It’s official. I suck. At least, that’s what my fancy new Suckage Quotient appears to indicate.

The Suckage Quotient (SQ)

Because one never knows how much they suck at something I invented the Suckage Quotient (SQ). SQ is a little formula you can use to quickly determine how much you such at something.


With SQ, the higher the number the less you suck at something. I know this seems backwards and it is. I suck at mathematical metaphors.

Using this formula, my Plumbing SQ is .22. I have little skill but I’m always desperate and have a very strong desire to succeed… (.2/(.95*.95))

On the other hand, most of my friends will tell you that I suck at golf. I mean really, really bad. I have no skill whatsoever. Yet, I also have no desire and I’m certainly not desperate. I actually like to ride around in the cart from hole to hole and have a nice cold one along the way. So, this gets me a Golf SQ of 10! (.1/(.2*.2))

Maybe I ought to play more golf?

Hmmm, I’ll get to my Writing SQ in a second but first a little background on how this SQ thing came to be…

The SQ Backstory

Every writer eventually asks the question… “Why do I write?”

If you’re like me, you ask it over and over again. Several times a day in fact. After 20 years, I’ve got lots of answers just none that I like…

Over at BookEnds, Jessica askied the published authors in the readership what how they kept going until they were published:

What made you stick with it or what makes you stick with? How do you know you aren’t spinning your wheels and how do you keep that faith alive?

At the time of this post, there are 65 comments on the thread. Many unpublished folks are chiming in about needing to write because that’s who they are. I can understand that as I am completely obsessive about my writing in the most unhealthy manner.

You probably are too.

In the archives here, I have plenty of posts about the need to write. I’d take them down but then I’d probably just put them back up again as new posts because some writerly urge would hit me and I would find them poignant or some other fancy phrase that basically means:

“I’m clever! Really, I’m clever! Please notice me and acknowledge my cleverness even it is only by trolling through my website and leaving lots of page views in my logs!”

Are We There Yet?

And where would that put us, eh? Any closer to the goal? But then, what is the goal?

Mark Terry wants to know too. He went on a bit of a tear in the comments. Then he followed it up with a post on his own blog asking wannabe writers “What They Want” from writing.

Do you write just because you love to write? Great, then why screw around with the publishing process? Publishing is a business and there’s precious little room for hobbyists out there (except in fiction, where most novelists ARE hobbyists, at least as far as the IRS is concerned). Stop trying to find an agent, stop trying to get your novel published. Save some trees and don’t print the damned manuscript out, keep the story in your head and die with a smile on your face. If that’s all you want, then don’t try to get published. Really. I’m not kidding.

When Depressed, Resort to Cleverness

Here’s what I had to say in response:

I think you hit it on the head when you said it was an illness.

Being a failed writer is the easiest thing in the world. No one cares what you do, no one has their eye on you. There’s even some sicko cachet in claiming some writerness.

You get a bit of attention and an appraising eye from people you don’t know. Or at least it seems that way to me.

This is exactly why I quit writing years ago, and then quit the year after that and the year after that.

Had my best “I QUIT” session last summer. Weeks and weeks of pure bliss. I started getting a full night’s sleep and stopped grinding my teeth to dust. Hell, I even went on vacation with the family.

Just recently, I convinced myself that I should start writing fiction again. I started with the usual hemming a hawing and then I went into it with both hands hammering on the keyboard.

This is a little like when I convince myself that I ought to go ahead and take another stab at home repair. Plumbing is an especially dangerous mistress.

Clever. Yes, quite clever. But being witty is something of a dodge. It’s so easy to mock yourself when the truth is too painful to bear. Time to get to the deed.

The Writing SQ

Now, after writing for 20 years, I’d like to think I’ve developed some measure of talent. If nothing else, I know where the bodies are buried. Unfortunately, I’m really quite desperate to be “a writer” and the measure of my desire is right off the charts. As a result, my Writing SQ is .51. (.5/(.99*.99))

Holy crap! Writing barely beats Plumbing? How can I fix this?

Well, desire isn’t going to go away so easily. I think the best I can probably do here is to lower my desperation factor. Still, even if I lowered the desperation all the way down to .1, my Writing SQ would hit 5.

5? Are you kidding me? A freaking 5? My Writing SQ is only half that of golf, and while riding around in a cart once a year is OK I can’t imagine doing it every day.

But then, maybe a 5 is good enough. Well, let’s measure it against something I know I’m good at… Something like programming.

I’m not the best out there but I can sling some code. Out of 100% I’ll be nice and give myself .85 for skill.

The problem with programming is that I hate computers. No, hate isn’t a strong enough word but I can’t think of anything at the moment because my writing skill has dropped to .3 so let’s stick with hate. Hate means that my desire is way low, like .05 low.

Also, since I’ve got skillz, I’m not really all that desperate. I’m like a long-legged blond trying to hitch a ride outside a truck stop. I just stick out my thumb and the brakes lock-up. I’ll put my desperation at .1.

If you calculate that, you end up with a Programming SQ of 170.

Guess I’d better keep the day job.

Oh, but then I don’t actually program anymore. Dang.

Well, I guess it’s back to writing.

8 thoughts on “The Suckage Quotient Or How I Found Out I Suck At Writing

  1. ROFL! After everything I write, I usually have the “you suck, what do you think you’re doing speech” with myself. On occasion I feel really good, and declare “You rock!” but it’s always followed by “No, no you suck!” Desire and courage (after all it does take courage to keep writing in spite of that voice that says You SUCK!”) keep me going day after day. I’m often scared to death but embrace the fear and write anyway. Thanks for the suckage quotient, now I can quiet my voice with math!

  2. I know exactly what you mean. The see-saw of suck/rock is a big part of my writing. The weird thing is that the stuff I think sucks usually turns out to be pretty good. Sadly, the same thing cannot be said for the bits that appear to rock. After I give the work a few days to cool off, I see it for what it is…

    This reminds me of the dark protagonist’s chapter in Donald Maass’s book…

  3. Ah, yes I have several of those carcasses tucked away in my closet too. They rock for exercising inner angst but not so much for other people to read. πŸ™‚

  4. Ah, but get your Desperation factor down to .01 and BAM! Your Writing SQ is 50.5! Get Desperation as close to zero as possible and SQ goes exponential!

    Great post.

  5. @Deborah Rock on!!! Welcome to the club!!

    @JLKrueger Absolutely. I figure that if I can either become financially independent or insolvent, I’ve got it in the bag. πŸ™‚

  6. As they say, it’s all about the information they -don’t- provide, isn’t it Jamie?

    Like, for example, the fact that you so conveniently forgot to provide us readers with your SQ for creating accurate mathematical formulae? An important piece of the puzzle, I must say.

    The way I figure it, that equation would look something like this: 0/100*100, which, of course, comes out to a whopping 0. (Better than if you had only 1 skill and no desire, mind you, but I digress.)

    Now this new piece of information calls into question every last bit of your article. Including the formula I just calculated.

    Daniel Smith

    Daniel Smith’s last blog post..The Twitter Funnel: Tweeting to Tighten Your Writing

  7. @Daniel How true. No one ever said that programmers were good at creating mathematical analogies, but we’re pretty sharp at hiding that fact within a forest of code and acronyms. πŸ™‚

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