Famous Authors Who Hate Their Own Work, and Why You Should Love Yours

Famous Authors Who Hate Their Own Work, and Why You Should Love Yours
Updated on 29 January 2015

Do you hate your own writing? If you do, then you’re in good company. Even the most beloved authors sometimes detest their own work. Here’s a list of some famous footsteps you shouldn’t be ashamed to follow.

Kurt Vonnegut

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His novels are required reading in English literature classes at most high schools and universities. Yet, even Kurt Vonnegut accepted that not all of his works were dazzling. In Palm Sunday, a collection of his essays, Vonnegut graded some of his published works. He gave two of his least successful and critically panned novels Ds: Happy Birthday Wanda June and Slapstick. However, he also gave his most celebrated work, Slaughterhouse 5, an A+.

Check out this post for some writing tips from another great author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka spent a good part of his life writing stories and then destroying them. Even after his novel, Metamorphosis, drew critical acclaim, he still despised much of his writing. At one point, a few years before he died, he tried to persuade his friend, Max Brod, to destroy everything he had ever written except for a few selected pieces. Brod declined, telling his friend he was crazy if he thought he would do such a thing.

Although Brod received a letter from Kafka after his death that again asked him to destroy his works, Brod never did so. He sought to publish them all instead.

Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain author, Annie Proulx, says she regrets penning the series of short stories that inspired the film of the same name. It isn’t the subject, or a matter of her hating her writing, that causes her ruefulness. It’s the fan-fiction that fans insist on sending her. Countless fans, self-identified as straight men, seem to delight in sending Proulx their smut-filled stories in which the two protagonists stay together. It is all part of their efforts to “fix” the story, they tell her.

A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne is the author of the beloved children’s series, Winnie the Pooh, now a multimillion dollar Disney franchise. He initially wrote the stories in the 1920s for his son, Christopher Robin. Milne came up with the ideas for the characters from the boy’s stuffed animal collection. He never expected the success they attained. In fact, they were so successful that he was unable to resume his writing career as an author of adult fiction. For this reason, he grew to detest the chubby little bear he created.

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming is the author of the James Bond novels. In the last years of his life, having written countless Bond books, Fleming decided to try something different. The result was The Spy Who Loved Me, a Bond story in which Bond does not appear until half way through the book. Vivienne Michel, the heroine, is the main character of the story, and everything, including Bond himself, is seen through her eyes.

At the time, neither fans nor critics received the book well. Fleming realized his experiment had failed. Although he requested his publisher pull the novel from publication, fortunately, it re-appeared in print after his death.

Anthony Burgess

The cult film A Clockwork Orange draws from the novel by Anthony Burgess. After the movie’s release, the book’s popularity soared even higher. To Burgess’ dismay, Clockwork’s acclaim eclipsed that of his other works. Worse still, it seemed that people were emulating the characters and committing crimes based on the movie and book. All of the above caused Burgess to distance himself from his masterpiece, even going so far as to declare it a “minor work.” Another beloved author, E.B. White shares some important writing lessons here.

Stephen King

Another author who requested that a book he wrote be pulled from publication is Stephen King. While he was in high school in the 1960s, he wrote a novel about a student who brings a gun to school, kills his teachers, and holds his algebra class hostage. He didn’t publish it until 1977, when it appeared in print under the title Rage.

After a series of school shootings spanning from 1988 to 1997, King asked his publisher to pull Rage from print. Police discovered that the perpetrators had copies of the book. King later said it wasn’t great writing, and since it seemed to be hurting people, pulling it felt like the right thing to do.

Although these writers didn’t always believe in themselves, millions of people all over the world have found hope, joy, and inspiration in their books. You’re a better writer than you think. We want to know: what do you do to snap yourself out of your writer’s funk?

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