My Own Worst Critic

Thursday, March 10th, 2005 • 1 Comment on My Own Worst Critic

I don’t like math, but I recognize the need for it.  I can do the kind of basic math necessary to get through life and keep the bills paid.  I can do simple math problems in my head and I’m even pretty good at word problems.  Statistics makes sense to me and I can muddle my way through elementary algebra and simple geometry, but other than that, I’m lost.  Trigonometry and Calculus are beyond my comprehension.  It’s as if there is a blank spot on my brain where those math skills should be and no amount of studying will ever fill the void.  I realize I will never really need to know that kind of higher math, but deep down it still bugs me that I can’t do it.

Writing is like that.  I get so incredibly frustrated because I feel like I’m grasping for something that is just beyond my reach.  I have the basic skills, I can craft a well-written paragraph, essay, short story.  I can put eighty thousand words together in some semblance of a plot and call it a novel.  I can write.  I know I can.  I’m just not good enough.  There is this blank space, this void that can’t be filled, this need to write better that is never satisfied.  I think it’s in me, I can feel it in me, but it’s an itch I can’t seem to scratch.

When I look back over everything I’ve written, I can see how my writing has improved.  At the time, in the moment, all I could see were the words in front of me and they were crap.  A little time, a little distance, a whole lot more words written and I can see that what I wrote in 1998 is better than what I wrote in 1994 but not so good as what I wrote in 2002.  I know I’m a better writer than I was a decade ago and I can only hope I’ll be a better writer a decade from now.  The problem is, there is a carrot dangling in front of me I can never quite reach no matter how hard I try.  It’s there, I see it, can practically taste it, but I can’t reach it.  My writing is never good enough.

I have always wanted to be a writer.  Since I was a very young child, I have known this is what I wanted to do.  I’ve been told many, many times how lucky I am to recognize my passion, my calling, my gift.  How lucky I am to know what it is I want to be when I grow up.  What no one seems to realize is that wanting and being are two entirely different things.  I can call myself a writer all I like, but until the void is filled, until I catch the carrot, until I am good enough to please myself for more than a few fleeting moments, I’m just a person who has spent thirty years trying to be something I’m not.

Posted by Kristina in Writing
  • Carter says:

    You’re not alone.  The math part doesn’t bother me anymore.  I did the best I could, and I’m satisfied with that.  The writing, though…

    I try to put a positive spin on it.  As long as I see that I can improve, I know I still have the fire and can continue to get better.  The alternative is to sink into mediocrity, and that is just unacceptable.

    You’re doing extremely well, I think.  Just keep pushing ahead.

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