In first grade, when everyone was saying “I want to be a princess” or “I want to be an astronaut”, I was the “I want to be an author” kid. I absolutely love writing, but sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the notion of my passion being what I want to do with my life that it stops me from writing anything at all. I often feel as if everything I write has to be good and every piece that I create has to propel me directly towards being published. After all, I only have so much time to write, so why am I wasting it writing crap? I’ve recently been able to convince myself that I am oh so very wrong, but the mindset of wanting to (and thinking I have to) be perfect gets to me.
This whole idea, I think, comes from the notion that art must be shared and that’s its sole purpose. In school, a lot of the time there are awards and the like which recognize the kids who are artsy or creative in some way. I kind of saw this as people saying that if I wasn’t recognized by other people as a writer, my thinking of myself as a writer wasn’t valid. And that was a really horrible way for me to go about my life, because for a while I would only write things that I thought other people would like. Whenever I finished something, I would give it to someone, wanting to know what they thought and thinking that that was it, they had to like it then or it was all a big pile of failure. And everything I wrote back then was complete and utter garbage. I know this, because not only was it unedited, but I was still a kid. You’re not going to be a published, award winning author when you’re ten. You have to practice first, and keep practicing, and practice for the rest of your life until you gradually write better and better, which I’ve begun to learn and accept as I’ve gotten older. But I wish someone had told me that when I was younger, instead of leading me to believe that everything I wrote was brilliant and I didn’t need to think critically about what I was writing. I know people think that’s a whole lot to put on a ten year old, but being deluded did me no favours.
While most things I write aren’t all that fantastic, my favourite feeling in the world is when I write something and I can sit back and think wow, that was good. It’s so wonderful to be able to appreciate my own work without the encouraging words of others convincing me that it’s not horrible. It’s hard, I’ve learned, to create and create and create but never be able to share it. Whether it’s not good enough, not something that’s created for an audience, and so on, I have so many words unshared and it can feel kind of pointless. For example, sometimes I write an essay for school, and I’m bursting with pride about how good it is, but then it goes to the teacher and is marked and that’s the extent of its life. Or I write a poem that’s too personal to share, even though I think it’s some of my best work, and it’s just another file in my computer. It can be draining to have so much work go unread, because it can feel like my ideas are all squished in a jar that I pick from as I write and someday those ideas will run out. That’s not the case, but there’s a difference between knowing something and being able to convince yourself enough to believe. And sometimes, even though I’m not sharing something wonderful that I wrote, in that rare ecstatic moment, those words just existing on that page for me to read- knowing that I am capable of writing well- is enough to inspire me to write more and more.
Even though it’s amazing to be able to appreciate my own work, there’s still the looming idea that I do, in fact, want this to someday be my job. That means I have to push myself, and write when it sucks, and continue to write things that suck. Even if I don’t get that feeling of being good for days, or months, or years, I’m going to have to keep writing if I want to succeed. I have these big, grandiose goals, and I’m never going to get to them if I just keep treating writing as a hobby. Which is hard, because sometimes I want to quit. After all, it would be easier to get some job with a steady income and a sure fire way to know you’re done the task and hand. But then I remember that writing is my passion and I just have to get past those barriers of not wanting to write, because creating a story is so much more satisfying than any day job could ever be for me.
That’s what I’m doing every day- trying to get past barrier after barrier. It doesn’t matter, really, if I’m writing for me or if I’m writing to share it with the world, because either way, hopefully, I’m getting better. I have to trust myself to know what I can accomplish, because in the end these are my goals, my dreams, and my ambitions, and the only way I’m going to get what I want is by pursuing it, no matter how much I doubt myself. And no matter how much I think that what I write is stupid (or cheesy, like this blog post most definitely is) I really do have to keep going, because it’s the only thing I know how to do, and the only shot I have at making it in this crazy world.