…but I sometimes find myself unable to churn out one.
In conversation, friends find me engaging and, not infrequently, find themselves in stitches. “You tell a good story,” they’ll say.
In high school, English language teachers always scored my language composition exam high, and pinned up my stories on the classroom notice boards so other students would borrow a leaf, figuratively speaking of course. The teachers felt my compositions were a good guide on how to write a good story, and hence pass your exam. I felt really good about that, no doubt.
When I first started blogging, I got some compliments, mostly about my very first posts. “I hope to start seeing some articles from you in one of these newspapers,” said a long time Facebook acquaintance. “You write well.”
And I hoped so, too. That had been the plan to start with: to start writing for one of the dailies. That someone I hadn’t shared it with should think as I did felt like validation.
Before my very first blog post I had had an inactive blog for some very long time, then I read some published articles that made me feel, ‘really, even I can do better. A lot better.’ Newspaper articles in the lifestyle section, especially, read under cooked. And that was the final jolt. I would stop playing around, I told myself. I know I can write. I would write. With some practice, I’d get better and better.
So I started blogging. At first with focus, regularity and discipline, then later with not as much focus, and more for leisure and with less purpose. That must have been how I lost it, or started to lose it, whatever creative art I may have had. What I wrote did not sound as good as I wanted. I used to be able to produce a good fictional story out of thin air, under the pressure and time span of an exam room. If high-school me could do that, and impress her examiners, surely now-me should be able do to much much better.
Maybe I got performance anxiety. I mean there are some really good writers here at WordPress. Reading them might make an under-developed writer feel her inadequacies.
I try not to compare myself to the rest too much, because as I’ve learnt, it becomes easy to lose your voice then. Appreciating their style and taking away a few pointers is all well and there is no harm in that. And while we are talking about writers here at WordPress, I quite like Celia at thekitchensgarden, Anne Schilde, Sandee at Sword-chinned bitch, Doctor Quack, Daniel at being sixteen (note: he’s some good decades above 16), The Hook, among others. I find their stories engaging and effortless, even when they write about the simplest of things. Like a colour of a cheque, a jammed lift, a lost cat, a teenage obsession, a star sign, or cheerleaders and their mums.
So lately, I’m trying to get my creative juices flowing again. I’m baking new dishes, blending new funky smoothies, and blogging again. A couple of months back I had started reading more. I even suffered an Alexandre Dumas addiction from which I felt I learnt much. Good readers make good writers, I think. (Oh, do check out my Goodreads to the left -or is it right? – I would like to be Goodreads friends.)
Taking my usual blog stroll today, I found this at Doctor Quack’s in a comment reply to one of his readers. It’s very timely for me and hope-inspiring.
“If you don’t mind reading this, there is a good Ira Glass quote for you that you might find provides a valuable lens for your own craft:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” “
Thank you Ira.