To boldly go…Posted: August 1, 2011
The Virtue/Vice essays are officially the essays that will not let themselves be writ. So for now I shall leave them alone in the hopes that I’ll be struck with divine inspiration at some unexpected moment. I shall keep you posted if/when this happens.*
I don’t tend to live life according to a specific phrase or motto, so I didn’t immediately know what I would write this essay about. Luckily, google came to the rescue**, and I found this excellent quotation.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt” – Sylvia Plath
The essay-a-week challenge has been much more difficult than I anticipated. Either I can’t think of a good topic, or what sounded unbelievably clever and hilarious in my head becomes extremely dull in translation from brain to paper. Part of the issue is that the internet is so public and leaves one terribly open to criticism. This fear is compounded by the fact that I am a frequent chat reader and some of the readers likely know exactly who I am. My instinct is to guard myself from any and all criticisms. A fairly impossible task on the internet, but I still feel compelled to try.
After re-writing the first few posts at least twice each (with completely different focusses) I had to tell myself to just stop! Choose a topic and go with it! More importantly, I also began to leave things alone. These things being bits of writing which I was unsure about; phrases that could be thought poorly written, or, horror of horrors, make me sound unintelligent and ridiculous. I have to remind myself that the point of doing this challenge was never to impress people with my brilliance (questionable) or to cause others to weep with joy at the elegance of my writing (writing that is adequate at best, and stems more from extensive reading than any natural skill). My goal for this essay challenge was to keep writing, keep practicing, and most importantly: improve.
It is easy to forget that goal. I don’t want to post anything truly terrible, but nor is it necessary that I post something positively astounding. Do I regret some of the things I left in? Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. I can think of at least two sentences off the top of my head which I really wish I hadn’t written. But I have a rule. After a post has been up 24 hours I am no longer allowed to change it, no matter what. This is important for both my growth as a writer and for my ego. (cue sarcasm font) Someday I plan on being an excellent writer, and it will be good for me to remember my humble origins (end sarcasm font).
But seriously, I am probably exaggerating my perceived faults in my mind. Studies have shown*** that people – academics, specifically – are terrible at judging their own writing skill. They often overestimate their ability in comparison to others, and I have to admit I have probably done this as well. And really, what I think is terrible is probably not what you think is terrible. What you think is terrible is likely something I believe is rather brilliant.
And that, dear readers, is why the editing process is so important. This blog is a prime example as all my posts have been edited solely by yours truly. This blog is raw, unadulterated, AH writing style. But, I digress. What I take from the quotation is that it is important that we create boldly so we may go where no man has gone before. Definitely not a new revelation, but still important and most assuredly worth writing by.
*Most likely this will be a thing that happens. All bets are off in the event that I die, am injured, or just plain forget. Or perhaps you find my blog boring and no longer care whether I update or not. To you I say…that’s fine, I cannot dictate your opinion. I wish you a good day sir/madam.
**There was a duel. Blood was shed. People died. It was very dramatic.
***Oh what a wonderful, useful, and quite often misleading phrase. I truly did read/hear about these studies in/from a reliable source, I just can’t remember where. My google fu skills are not up to the task either, apparently