Real talk: I’ve been having difficulty writing lately. It’s not that I don’t have topics or ideas at the forefront of my mind, it’s more that I fear I don’t have the time or mental energy to share them with the thoroughness they deserve.
Like many writers, I feel a responsibility to present multiple sides to a story, and to do so with integrity, creativity, and truth. Perhaps even more cumbersome is my desire to offer up perfect writing to the world — to eliminate all spelling and grammatical errors, to strike cliches and idioms, and to refine my points so they are concise and fair.
I’m sure this fixation on perfection has something to do with negative feedback that made its way back to me several years ago. This comment was flippant at best, harmful at worst — and it has remained with me all this time, probably because it was made by a then-aspiring writer friend, a friend whom I genuinely and noncompetitively encouraged to pursue a career in the field in which I’d been working for several years.
His feedback? “She’s not that good of a writer.”
Funny how the loudest and harshest critics tend to be the folks who have little to no authority on the subject about which they’re so vocal.
Also funny: how just seven words — even when uttered by someone without tact or authority — can haunt a person whose primary motivation for writing is simply to connect with, engage, and, just maybe, inspire others. I relate to the words of Cheryl Strayed when she asserts, “The most important work I’ve ever done as a writer is to make people feel less alone.”
And what is “good” writing, anyway? What does a “good writer” look like? What does a “good writer” even write?
I will admit that, without an editor, a writer is often lost — left to captain a vessel without a crew or navigation instruments, relying only on our intuition as we make our way through the rough seas of an untold story. Left to our own devices — yes, that’s an idiom — we are all just fumbling, bumbling amateurs at different stages of inexperience (or, as I prefer to define it: discovery).
And since there is no editor I’m able to call upon in the wee hours of the morning when I finish a blog post, this space is one of sometimes raw, incomplete, and rambling thoughts (or, as I again prefer to define it: a place of discovery).
Partly because of the absence of an on-call editor, I will be the first to admit: sometimes my writing appears messy. That’s because it is. All writing is messy.
And, in some way or another, or to some person or another, all writing is “not that good.”
Over a month has passed since I set a daily blogging goal, and some days I have not met this goal. A typical blog post on Daley Muse typically takes about two to four hours, two to four times as long as the single hour I idealized. There have been times when other responsibilities piled up so high it felt impossible to push over those piles and do the work I feel most compelled to do while I’m on this planet: write.
But here’s the thing: at least I’m writing. (Even if I’m “not that good.”)
And here’s what I hope for you: even if you feel like an amateur without anything valuable anything to say, that you say something anyway.