Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"I Can Be Better. I Will Be Better."

Sometimes, it honestly feels like I'm the last person on Earth who can write...

I should note, as I begin, that this post sounds painfully arrogant. For that, I apologize. There's a humble conclusion, I assure you.

I've just rewritten this letter that somebody at church threw together. I'm shocked that whoever wrote this letter actually has a job writing letters. It looks like the writer decided to string together a bunch of cliche, "feed the children" infomercial lines until she got bored. I sincerely hope the writer was just in a huge hurry. Maybe she was in labor or something...

It reminded me of every English class I ever took, listening to students read their terrible papers in front in classes. They treated the English language like a toddler treats paper - they tore it up and chewed on the pieces while I resisted the paternal urge to run over and pull it out of their mouths before they choked on it.

In middle school English class, I felt like my schedule got swapped with a special needs kid's. High school? Same deal. By the time I got to college, I just decided that no one else was really trying. To be fair, I spent my first year of college at Hood School, where the girls just wanted to get married and the guys' career plans consisted of "gettin' paid," and little else. Now that I'm looking at the real world, reading columns in magazines and newspapers, I'm coming to the realization that the writing world really is full of idiots.

Nah, I'm playin'.

While it does seem that too many writers either don't know what they're doing or they're trying way to hard to sound smart, that's not what this is about. This is all about me. See, for as long as I can remember, I've been told that I was a "great writer," "very talented," or "really blessed," and that my career should be in writing. Now, when you hear things like that from teachers, friends and employers, it only makes sense that you would put special effort into honing that skill. But the truth is, I never did. I never tried. I wrote all my papers at the last minute, did almost no recreational writing, and only made a solid effort when there was a prize involved. One week, my teacher would be reading my paper to the class as an example of excellence, next I'd get a handwritten note telling me that I didn't even try. It didn't bother me, either. They way I saw it, and effortless 'B' beat a hard 'A,' any day.

I called myself the "King of BS" (not out loud, mind you), because I would consistently earn passing grades on research papers without doing any research and book reports without reading the book. Wow the teacher with English and they'll lose their focus on content. Works everywhere but History class (those teachers only care about names and dates).

Enough about that. I'm beginning to sound like a D-bag. My point is this: I haven't been trying and I regret it. I've taken the one craft I truly feel I could excel in and squandered all the time specifically designated for studying it. For the past year or so, I've considered writing as a career but I really don't feel that I'm good enough. Maybe I am "talented," or "blessed." Could be. But I'm certainly not skilled. I've put forth the bare minimum, and shamelessly so.

I feel a bit like Hancock. He was a super-powered person who did heroic things, but he wasn't superhero. He did what he needed to do, but he did so haphazardly, with no concern as to whether he was reaching his potential, being the superhero he could have been.

Now I feel like what I really need is for a professional to sit and teach me the ropes. I want someone who knows what he's doing to look at my work and say, "This is okay but this sucks. Fix this." And as many of you know, I'm mulling over the idea of switching my major to journalism. Don't ask me what they teach journalism majors, but I sure hope is "how to write." If I decide to do that, I swear, I'll try.

Until the time that decision is made, I'm gonna try this: I'm going to try, right here. I'm going to proofread my posts. I'm going to try to write them in more than one sitting. I'm going to consider how they make me look, before I post them. I am going to take everything I have learned about writing and utilize it. It's time for me to start flexing my literary muscles and working them 'til they burn.

"You deserve better from me. I can be better. I will be better."
Stick with me, people. Right around the corner lies a whole new "Box of Peanuts."


Auror Assassin said...

Hmm, so seeing that you might be recognized seems to have probed you into possibly taking the time to "write" instead of streaming your thoughts... haha

Chris said...

That's the beauty of it! I was writing this when we started talking. It needed to happen, either way.

Anonymous said...

U should consider screenwriting. U told me once that u were writing a story or something.