Here’s my obligatory “everything is going great” post:
Everything is going great.
But no really, it is.
For a long time, I’ve had a hard time finding the distinction between work and play because the “work” that I’d prefer to be doing could also be considered play. And because that play can also be considered work, I sometimes feel less than inclined to do it. Of course, I’m referring to creative writing. It’s really fun. It’s the one thing that I’ve always and invariably found fun. But getting started rarely ever sounds fun. Even right now as I’m writing this blog post that should’ve gone up over an hour ago, I was nearing the point of mental exhaustion before I even typed the first word. (I actually have a pretty good excuse for being behind schedule but I don’t want to bore you.)
For me, and I’d like to assume most emerging writers, there’s this intense feeling of perfectionism. Before I start writing, I have about a million ideas running through my head, but upon typing the first sentence or even the first word I’ve already plunged myself into this defeatist thinking. That what I write isn’t good and can never be good. To make matters worse, one of the most logical ways to get past this line of thinking is to have someone whose opinion you value read the thing you just wrote and tell you it’s good. The problem with that is, at least for me, I know hardly anyone who is willing to dedicate the time to read my lengthier writings. I even have some avid reader friends that can’t find time to read a relatively short poem. And I bet you can guess what goes through my head upon learning that they can’t or won’t read it. Exactly. What I’ve written is clearly garbage. Even when there are a seemingly infinite number of reasons why that particular individual can’t find the time.
Then you think, well maybe my friends just don’t want to hurt my feelings. Maybe it really is garbage. But maybe getting an unbiased opinion would be beneficial. Of course it would, but how are you gonna get it? You mean to say you want a complete stranger to read something you’ve written for no incentive other than to give you feedback? I mean even the handful of followers I have here who read my posts on a recurring basis don’t offer me feedback even when I explicitly ask for it (No offense, I actually don’t mind and your likes are enough to stroke my ego honestly. I love you. Please don’t leave.). Because that’s just not how our brains work. We’re not going to devote time to something or someone we’re not even a little bit invested in. And I totally understand that and hopefully most emerging writers do.
But hey, it may not actually be garbage. There a million different factors. One of which is audience. You can beg your friends to read your work and give you feedback all you want, but if they don’t like the genre or the subject matter, you might be wasting your breath. But you can’t structure your writing specifically so they’ll like it. Well I guess you could, but why would you want to? Writing should be to your audience not for your audience.
So while I still get anxious when I sit down to start a writing session, I keep writing anyway. It’s not that I’ve decided to not care what people think of my work. Of course I care. I have to care if I want to make a profession of it someday. Rather, I found that I always considered my writing to be an extension of myself. So if someone were to criticize a story or a poem, it would feel as if I had been criticized myself. While that’s not literally a bad point of view to have, through making myself aware of it, I realized that I care way too much about what people think of me. And not just in writing. It’s taken me a few years to finally relax that shortcoming. And that brings us to today, a Mack who cares what you think of him but not enough to stop doing what he loves.
So that’s what I really mean by “everything is going great.”
P.S. I couldn’t decide on a title for this post so I just made it my theme song, by Mark Morrison.