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.