Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG - the World is Ending... I'm Calling Time Out

I'm not going to lie about this. I'm in a hurry today. The winds of change in my personal life are blowing and I'm having to discover a new routine for posting and such. Right now, I've not been doing much internety things.

But, this is the one day a month that Alex J Cavanaugh has given us, through the Insecure Writer's Support Group, to vent about all our troubles and woes and not have to worry about people thinking we're whiney, we're supposed to be whiney today. All of you trying to encourage others on your own blogs are starting to make me feel bad, so make up some troubles if you have your act together, just to make me feel better about myself. You know, misery loving company and all that.

Anyway, this month, I want to take just a moment to talk about my latest meltdown, which is this: I'll never be good enough.

It would take me way too long to get into all the details of how I went down this rabbit hole of self pity and doubt, but needless to say, that's where I'm at. I feel kinda like Michael Jordan when he quit basketball to pursue life as a baseball player. Not that I had this other field I'm so great in that I left, but that he was one of the most notoriously hard workers on the planet, but no matter how much work he put into it, he just couldn't will himself into being a major league baseball player.

And all that work he was putting into developing his skills of a baseball player, well, it was described like thing: If he were on your company softball team, you would think he's he greatest ever. But put him on a team with other major league prospects, and you begin to see that he's missing something.

Ah Ha! That's me. I've spent a decade obsessing about the craft - in spite the of fact that the comma is a still a mystery to me - and I think back to Michael Jordan, yes, I can shoot 1000 free throws per day just like he did when he played basketball, but there is not training I can do that will give me hands large enough to wrap halfway around a basketball, or to jump so high that I'm in danger of hitting my head against the rim when I leap.

Those are things that someone is born with. I wonder if writing is the same way sometimes. Yes, I can learn to plot a decent story, but that won't make me great.

And that's my rant, my fear, to put it more succinctly, is that as good as I can ever dream of being, won't be enough to ever make me the writer I want to be. Period. And as such, well, I don't know. Don't judge me. It's my free day.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some gifts you do have to be born with, but if you never do anything with them, it won't matter.
Fortunately, the gift of storytelling you do possess! You are good enough. Believe.

Julie Flanders said...

I'm sorry you're having these struggles. I can relate as I've been having a similar meltdown for the past few months. Hang in there.

Mina Burrows said...

Alex is right. Believe! We think you're pretty awesome so that's gotta count for something. Right?

You know in your heart you're good enough, you just need to keep moving forward and when you're feeling down, say something like, "I've never been better." And before you know it, your awesomeness will radiate and blind us all. How's that sound? Good? Great. Now get back to work. :)

stu said...

I think it was Neil Gaiman (I tend to steal most of the quotes I remember from him) who said that the one thing everybody in the world is the best at is being themselves, so they should focus on telling the stories that only they can tell.

Pat Dilloway said...

Most people don't think they're good enough, which in a way is positive as it drives them to strive for greatness.

It's like the Simpsons episode where Homer decides to be an inventor and puts up a list of Thomas Edison's achievements to compare himself to. Then later he finds out Edison had a chart comparing himself to da Vinci. And hell da Vinci probably had one of Archimedes or someone like that.

Joy Pagel said...

Rusty, you really are better than you give yourself credit for. Your stories have that compelling quality that makes someone want to keep reading them. There are good stories, and good writers. A good writer can make you want to read any story. You do that.

I think you're taking the wrong inspiration from Michael Jordan. He was a guy who could have kept on playing basketball and racked up championship after championship and dominated (more than he actually did.) And instead, he opted to pursue something he really loved. He was never as good at it as he wanted to be, but who is? He was as good at it as he COULD BE, and that's saying a lot.

Keep writing. Or keep doing whatever it is you want.

Tony Laplume said...

I do happen to believe that someone can't force themselves into being a better writer than they are. But that isn't to say that anyone who can write can't figure out how they write best.

If that's applicable, I hope I've been helpful.

Jay Noel said...

Feeling the same way, so I'm a poor source of positivity today. All I can say it to just ride it out. Eventually, the self doubt will wear off. It's such a roller coaster, isn't it?

mooderino said...

It hard to really judge yourself without feeling your coming up short. I think most people feel that way. But it's part of the cycle the brain goes through and it will pass, and come back, and then pass. C'est la vie.

Moody Writing

Nigel G. Mitchell said...

The fact that you have produced completed stories at all proves you have it in you. Most people who want to write never get as far as a finished first draft. Maybe you're not Michael Jordan basketball right now, but you're Michael Jordan baseball, which is better than Stephen Hawking baseball (cold-blooooooded!).

Anyway, Jordan's problem wasn't that he was in the wrong field. Like you said, he wasn't a bad baseball player. Jordan's problem is that he wanted to be a major league baseball player, and he wasn't willing to put in the time or effort to earn his dues at the minor leagues like everyone else. Plus he was old and beaten up from being a major league basketball player.

I wouldn't worry about being a major league writer. If it happens, it happens. Focus on being the best writer you can be. To keep the baseball analogy, there are players out there right now whose dream is just to get into the minor leagues. Maybe one day you'll graduate to the majors, but being in the minors is still an achievement.

Jo said...

Read the dragon's IWSG post today, there is a video near the bottom which is very apposite to what you are "whining" about today. It talks about following your passion.

Don't we all get these feelings periodically?

M Pax said...

You don't have to be perfect. Pick any book and you'll find mistakes of craft. The best sellers, the award-winning, all of them.

The good news is, you don't have to be perfect to gain and audience and sell books. The great news is you can just keep getting better.

Andrew Leon said...

Okay, well, here's my question, just for clarification:
Do you want to be a great writer or do you want to be a successful writer?
Those things don't often go together, and I'm just trying to figure out which you want.


The idea that I never will be good enough so why try, is the devils work. I think that we aspire to become what we are and what we can.

Pat Hatt said...

Well a lot of it is pure fluke luck too, so I don't think one is necessarily born with it.

Loni Townsend said...

Never be good enough? Who gets to be the judge? I've often wondered this. I can love a story, and then I'll see reviews about how terrible the writing is. But I didn't notice. It transported me to another world. The author pulled me in and made me love characters and places and experience things. Who are those others to declare something unworthy? How dare they? What determines success? Sales? Numbers? Sure, maybe for some. But Dammit Jim, you're a writer, not an accountant! Unless you are.

It's like Dr. Seuss said.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

Don't worry, I don't know where I was going with that either.

Heather Holden said...

I can relate to this far too well. I never feel like I'm good enough, especially when I start comparing myself to other artists. No amount of practice seems to match up with the sheer talent they have. So, don't worry, I won't judge you--I'd be a hypocrite if I did!

Maurice Mitchell said...

We all struggle with this feeling. I think just knowing you need to improve puts you above the rest. Think about how many people don't know enough about what they're doing to know they need to improve.