Other Writers Frustrate Me

I’m doing well with my goals, my forward progress. I feel good about my life most days, and then I have a new revelation.  That happened again this week.  I have written my 500+ words each day this week, on ideas from my idea notebook, while on the road, so I’m feeling proud about my routine and proud about the progress I’ve been making.

Then I read an article on Medium about how writing the same thing, trying to get followers is bullshit.  It resonated somewhere deep in my soul, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not doing the right things for the right reasons.  I feel like a snake-oil salesman in the 1800s selling magic potions out of his covered wagon.

I was able to intellectually think my way out of this box throughout the day.  The next day, after again, a successful writing period, I came across an essay on nihilism and our current situation. It was personal, philosophical and political.  My emotions wavered for and against the author, mostly due to his bandwagon political treatment of our sitting president.  But if I’m honest, I don’t pay attention to Trump’s daily antics any more than I watch a popular TV show.  It doesn’t affect me.  It’s all noise.

But the nihilism essay was so beautifully written that it put me back on my heels.  As much as I try, I could never have produced such a lovely piece of prose.  It reminded me of Nabokov writing about a little girl sitting on the lap of a middle-aged man in Lolita.  Beautiful, even if I didn’t agree with the subject, or like what was going on, the wording, the phrasing, the universality of the ideas, made me stop and think.

I’m not like others

The revelation makes me realize that I can’t do this like that specific author.  I want to interview him about this piece to know how long it took him to write and edit.  I’m not sure I want to hear the answer, though.  If this guy is able to write that well with minimal editing, I’m screwed.  And more than that, I’m disheartened.

Both of those articles made me realize how far away I am from my ideal state.  No matter how many times I tell myself, “this won’t be easy, and it will take years,” my impatient side sees these as signs of my failure. I feel like my writing goals are unreachable. It’s completely disheartening.

The obstacle is the way

Then I realize that this is me growing as a writer.  This is me not wanting to just write something to attract attention.  I want to add value.  I want to write something that affects others like those two pieces affected me.  Did they help me?  No, they didn’t.  I still believe that if I can teach others what I’ve learned, I’m going down a good path.  But, I have this drive to be able to write beautiful prose.  I want to walk the line between poet and essayist.  I want to be able to move people with my words. I may be projecting my own views on the world, but for me, it’s hard for me to disagree with something that’s beautifully written.

Then, I wonder will I ever view my own writing in that same vein?  Will I let myself see my writing from the outside, from another’s point of view, allowing me to be moved?  The challenge is, I know what’s coming with something I’ve written.  Even if I don’t remember the exact words because I’ve set the work aside for a week or two to let my brain cool off, I know the thought process, I remember the trail the writing is taking, and it’s familiar to me because I created it.  I don’t have that when I read another author.  I don’t get the inside track to their thoughts, so I’m easily impressed because I don’t know what’s coming next.

It’s pretty unfair to myself, but this has happened a few times over the last four months, so there may even be some sort of cosmic cycle my creative brain is tied to.  Some comet may be linked to my feelings of inadequacy.  Wouldn’t that be super?  If I knew it’s orbit, I could just hide on those days and let it pass, coming out of my cave like a groundhog on Feb 2nd.

For now, I’ll put this piece aside for at least a few days, come back and see how I feel about all this.  But today, the revelations are disheartening and depressing.  They remind me not how far I’ve come, but how far I still have to go.

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Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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