Writing and reading and reading and writing

Another big break between posts! And not for lack of trying. I’ve written at least a dozen posts and have tossed each of them as worse than the previous. Why is it so hard for me to write something I’m proud of? I love writing, I’m willing to do the work. I read enough to know my tastes and inform my style. But writing something I love is just SO. HARD. And after years of being a voracious yet highly picky reader*, my bar for “something I love” is set awfully high.

I’ve been rolling this question around in my head for the better part of a month in a vain attempt to understand: what’s wrong with my writing, and by extension, myself? In an apparent answer to my prayers, I found a quote that spoke to my heart. Ira Glass from This American Life wrote,

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…. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions… It’s normal to take a while. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.


He says that he feels like for him that it’s taken longer than most. I feel like a late bloomer, only now really taking the leap that I want to self-publish my writing (this blog counts as self-publishing, right?). I also know I take longer than most to become comfortable with new endeavors. By that math, I should be really hitting my stride, oh, when I’m about 65. Maybe writing can be my work in retirement.

If that really is my goal, to enjoy reading what I write and to make this a long-term habit, then I need to continue hammering away at this thing. Doing the work, feeling less than stoked about it and pressing publish anyways. As I often tell myself when I’m about to start a marathon training program, get comfortable being uncomfortable. And I guess that’s what I have to do now.

Which is easier said than done. I’m a recovering perfectionist with anxious tendencies. Anything less than perfect is nigh unbearable. But the journey is important. I can never become who I am going to be without being the person I am now. My work will never mature if I don’t hold myself accountable and let it see the light of day. So here I am. Sitting with my new mantra: write, release, relax.

Onward.

*I’m on a book binge right now. I’ve just finished Thirst, by Scott Harrison, Becoming, by Michelle Obama, and First We Make the Beast Beautiful, by Sarah Wilson. Beast is a must read for anyone who lives with anxiety, Becoming is as compassionate, open, and informative as anything you’d expect from Michelle Obama.

Thirst was an interesting one for me. Typically I’d classify it as a feel good book that is an easy read. Because of where I’m at in my life, I felt tied to Scott’s journey (minus the models, drugs, and booze) which made it much more captivating. Before he started charity: water he struggled with many of the same ideas, feelings and situations I feel like I am struggling with now. I don’t know that everyone will connect with the book in the same way I have, but I recommend it if nothing else as an enlightening read on the worldwide water crisis, and how we can all make a difference.