Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trying to measure up...


I’m pretty stressed right now-midterm tests and quarter grades all have to be finalized by Wednesday, my son said someone squirted hand sanitizer in his eye as he was getting up to get off the bus today (I think it was just on his face and he rubbed it into his eye but we did a rinse just in case, and I’m peeved!), I got my daughter upset about the bus situation by insinuating that she doesn’t look out for her younger brother, we had to rush off to take the dog to his vet appointment, I had to hurry back to get dinner started(my daughter had practice at 6:30), and once again I am worried that I am not good enough at something I endeavor to be great at.

For the most part I am a positive person, and I try to be a positive force for my friends and family, but when it comes to my talents, I am a “jack of all trades”-good at many things but great at none. I enjoy art and drawing but I am not an artist; I love music and used to play guitar but I’m no musician; I went back to school for computer science when an English teaching position didn’t open up, and though I know much more than my students and the average Joe, I am not a master computer programmer. Now this post is really starting to depress me, but I’m also a realist. What bothers me the most about all this though is the fact that I have spent my entire life thus far trying to prove to myself that it’s in me to be great, that this greatness is just around the corner-it’s just not time yet. And I would achieve this greatness with my "pen."


You see my first love has always been writing, in fact, writing to me is a cleansing experience. It’s when I can put words to feelings and emotions but I never have to utter a sound. Sometimes it’s a grueling process, because once I start writing, I can’t stop until I’m finished-it may be physically and mentally exhausting but I have to complete the piece. My teachers in grade school and high school, and my professors in college, all encouraged me, and I knew I was good, but is that good enough?

I have tested this “good but not great” theory by participating in sporadic writing contests in high school, college, and over the years, but I have never made the cut. I work and rework a project until I think it’s perfect, and then as I await the results, I start to agonize over every little detail. All is lost if I can compare it to someone else’s entry because I read and reread that once perfect work until in my eyes it is seriously flawed and a waste of time and energy.


I recently entered yet another writing contest as you can tell by my last post, but what started out being enjoyable, has now left me feeling anxious and unfulfilled.(I just didn't have it in me to post, and I am sorry I have neglected all of you this past week...) My husband says that he doesn’t believe in contests, especially those online because who’s to say if anyone wins. He says my entering should all be in fun, and he doesn’t understand why I stress myself about things like this. And I don’t really have a good answer for him-I just keep pointing to that never-ending desire for greatness, because that’s what makes me do the things I do.

If any of you do this to yourselves when it comes to your writing, I would love to hear that I am not alone on this one. As for me, I can hear a slice of cheesecake calling my name (why did we have to buy that cheesecake sampler?), so I am off to the kitchen for some healing-or better yet, maybe I’ll just get a glass of water. It’s definitely not the same, but my inner voice is telling me that I would regret my rendezvous with Mr. cheesecake in the morning-sigh


17 comments:

  1. First of all, I love your posts and I think that you are a great writer! I know I suck at writing, I like blogging b/c I can write however I want and people don't have to read it if they don't like it. I do LOVE cake decorating and I am taking a class and it is the hardest damn thing ever! SO FRUSTRATING! Don't get down on yourself...you eat cheesecake and I will eat butter cream frosting:)

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  2. Oh and how do you do the blogroll thing on your side bar?? SO COOL!

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  3. I can relate completely to the Jack of all trades, master of none feeling. I think my problem stems from trying to pursue too many interests at once (when I don't have much spare time these days anyway). The way you describe feeling about the writing contest - ending up stressed out over something that was supposed to be fun - is how I felt about my blog as the year ended. What started out as a fun hobby turned into a poorly paying job that I wasn't enjoying anymore. I've had to really rethink what I want from it.

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  4. Hmmmm. I am not competitive with anyone else. However, I am competetive with myself. I do like to test myself to try things. But I know that there will always be those out there that are better than me, so I don't bother with contests. They only depress me.

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  5. I can't believe somebody squirted sanitizer into your son's eye! That's awful!!!

    I read this kind of thing from so many writers. I think it's a tough business to be in and if you're serious about it, there are a lot of rejections along the way. I wish I had some bit of advice for you! I do hope you stick with it though!

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  6. Writing is a cleansing experience for me often. When I write, I try not to think about my audience's opinion of my writing ability or style. I let it all out. Breathe through my writing in a way. I have entered many contests too. I stopped because the deadline pressure would stifle my writing and passion. I would edit more and write less. I think that is why I like poetry so much. It's a form where I can just allow the images and words to fall from me. Form and structure are not as limiting. I always say that my poetry is an intimate expression of me. It's probably more for me than any particular reader. They are kind of like my soul confessions to myself of what I'm feeling at a particular moment.

    My advice to you, my dear friend, is to write, write, write, write!!! Maybe a journal is a good place to exercise those writing muscles and play around with your voice. Good luck and don't worry. The writer within you will never let you down.

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  7. As long as you enjoy writing, and you think you are great, what else matters?

    I love writing too. I would love to have my blog go viral and everybody know my name... but you know what? It probably won't happen. Should I stop since I can't be the #1 blogger of the world?

    No. It brings me peace and happiness and mostly... JOY.

    So write for yourself and the rest will follow. Plus, writing is very subjective.

    Enjoy the cheesecake.

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  8. I think I know what you mean, I have always enjoyed writing but let my lack of formal skills intimidate me. I always have the question, what if I suck? I really have no idea. I'm either getting something out of my system or enjoying myself. I hope someone will get something out of it. I notice with myself that when I dash something off I end up liking it more than something I tried to perfect. I think Great is in the eye of the beholder and there is an ear for every voice. I love Edith Wharton but have to force myself to read Henry James, who was her critical mentor from what I have read. And I love beautiful convoluted writing, he just annoys me. My daughter who is the artist is also a writer. She was in writing at the school she left and she gave up because she felt she didn't live up to their expectations of what writing "should be". I hate to see anyone feel unworthy because of individual opinions. Sorry this is so long but in my opinion, even if one person enjoys or is touched by what you write you have done something Great!

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  9. Hey Susan! Write in white heat and edit with a cold pen. That's what I learned in college. So when the muse hits you, just write, write, write; don't think about what others are going to say or if you've a couple of mistakes, just write. Later on, when you've said everything that you wanted to say, go through your work with an editor's eye and be savage.

    Reading helps a lot too; When I started reading again, that's when I started really writing again :)

    Happy weekend! :)

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  10. I think it's great that you enter contests from time to time. I write as well, aside from my blog, and I've thought about entering contests, but then I don't have the time to focus on the contest, and on the work I'm writing at the same time. The more you write the better you'll get, so keep writing! :)

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  11. I think a lot of people are good at a lot of different things and I think that is great. I believe that you are probably a GREAT mom, a GREAT friend to someone and GREAT just as a person in general. Don't sweat the other things. Just enjoy all the things you are good at and then you will achieve your greatness:)

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  12. I absolutely feel like a jack of all trades, master of nothing. I can play the piano, but not great. I love to write poetry, but I'm not great. I love to write anything, but I'm not great. I love literature, I love to bake, but I'm not great. I like so many things, but I'm not great at anything. It is extremely frustrating. And depressing. But, we muster on! I always thought I would be destined for greatness someday...that someday I would find the one thing that I am meant to do...but, in my mid-thirties, I still haven't found that one thing. I'm beginning to fear that I never will.

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  13. I too suffer from the jack of all, master of nothing. I love to write and feel like that is really where my niche is. But just because I feel like that, doesn't mean that it is. I used to enter contests and never won, so I kind of stopped doing it. It is stressful!

    And kids are so nasty! I imagine hand sanitizer in the eye had to hurt! Ouch!

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  14. Writing has always been my first love as well. My only advice would be to continue writing, especially when you are inspired. I find some of my best posts come when an idea strikes me, rather then sitting down to "force" a post...keep at it girl!

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  15. I think it's great to enter the writing contests! It's something you're doing for yourself, so why not! Yum, cheesecake. I've sworn off the chocolate for the month, but I'm finding some alternatives, like Ginger sandwhich cookies....its bad....bad....

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  16. Good luck with the contest. It's something that you just have to keep doing over and over until your luck comes in. Based on the number of giveaway wins you've had on my blog maybe some of that will trickle over to your writing contests.

    One suggestion that I've found that really has helped me feel valued as a writer is to find a good critique group. It's wonderful to have a supportive group that is able to critique honestly but tactfully. Also, I don't know if you do any article writing but if you find a local community paper to write for you might have some success there and then feel validated. Just some thoughts that may help out a little.

    I hope you went for the cheesecake!

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