Sticking With It

February 20, 2008

I worked the entire day last Sunday on a 250-word description of a basketball game I went to on Saturday night for my grammar homework.  It amazes me at how good writers can come up with such incredibly skillful phrasing.  Even after spending the entire day on those 250 words, after I submitted the homework I re-read it and couldn’t believe how juvenile it sounded.

I have to keep reminding myself over and over and over that I’m a 50-year-older  doing this for the first time and comparing myself to someone who (probably) has been  writing their entire lives.  As far as I can tell, I only have one of three options:

1.  I can say “what’s the point” and give up.  Then what would I do with the rest of my life?  For a number of years I’ve been living on the assumption I wouldn’t live much longer than another couple of years, and then a couple of years passes, and I find myself still alive and kicking.  In some ways I need to go back to my pre-cancer mindframe and allow myself the luxury of feeling that I’ll live a good long life.  Maybe there is life after cancer after all?

2.  I can keep going with it and fail.  But what would fail mean exactly?  There’s no  distinct endpoint when it comes to learning how to create, so the endpoint is self-defined (i.e. you quit trying).

3.  I keep sticking with it and keep giving myself pep talks and hanging out with people who feed me even the tiniest compliments to keep me driving myself (Like my grammar teacher who is nothing sort of a remarkably patient, attentive, and encouraging teacher who makes me feel like I can do it, and makes me want to do better.)

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4 Responses to “Sticking With It”

  1. Ned said

    You and I are sharing wavelengths again.

    Did you ever see the movie “Lady in the Water”? There’s a part where this man is told that he will write a book and the book will be read by a boy in the Midwest. That boy will be inspired by his ideas and grow up to become a great leader.

    There’s a part of me that says my writing isn’t worth it… it isn’t a real job like being a garbage man or being the CEO of Microsoft. My logical mind (ego) can’t come up with a good reason why I write… but I’m compelled to do so anyway.

    So maybe I’m not writing for myself. Maybe I’m writing for someone I’ve never met who will read my material long after I’m gone. Maybe I’m still around because I still have something to give. I’m comfortable with that– not knowing why. It reminds me that I am an instrument of something else, something bigger than me. Why run from that which gives me purpose in the first place?

  2. I always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until my son was born when I was forty-four that I found myself with the focus to do it somewhat regularly. When I started, I would re-read my own stuff, and sometimes it would make me cringe. It made me want to give up. Sometimes I still feel like I’m not a “real” writer. But, I’m better than when I started back then, and I fully expect that I’ll be better at it a few years from now. I’m glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad you didn’t give up. Maybe we aspiring writers need to keep the Nike mantra in mind: “Just do it.”

  3. Jane said

    Ned, wow, what moving movie story. Very It’s-A-Wonderful-Life’ish, whose theme of the interconnectedness of us all gives you pause to contemplate the possibilities that one’s true greatness may not necessarily lie within something you can touch, feel, or sense at the moment.

    There’s something about our society’s definition of success and “a real job”. I wonder how many people have missed their life calling because they were driven to suppress those abilities that didn’t directly contribute to “a career”. By the same token that the boy in the Midwest became a great leader as a result of something that the man wrote, I wonder if this little boy might have become a hurtful, resentful, vindictive, stressed-out, miserable human being as a result of NOT having read this man’s piece that so inspired him. And if you expand that to all of the people this miserable human being now touches, you could even envision an entire society or culture driven, lead, or in some other way affected by someone like this.

    Thank you for your comment. It has me taking a step back this morning and musing over the microcosm of our world and thinking maybe I also have some higher purpose.

  4. Jane said

    Hal, thank you for your comment and your much-appreciated encouragement. That comment about sometimes you feel you’re not a “real” writer is inspiring, given what I just read in your blog. If someone like YOU can say that, then maybe I do need to just not pay attention to that voice in my head and “Just do it”. I will write that on an index card and tape it to my wall.

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