I have been writing for my entire life, probably longer than I’ve been reading because my mother saved pieces of paper with my scribbling on it that’s dated around the time I was two. I’ve always loved putting pen to paper to make a story.
Writing became serious for me when I was in junior high school: my teacher read a story I wrote to the class. She thought I had potential and encouraged me to keep writing. She was also a tough grader and often tore apart my work because of poor grammar, wrong word usage, hack phrases and unoriginal ideas. Most of the class hated her because she was so hard to please but I worshipped her; a good grade from Mrs. Joseline was like getting published in The New Yorker Magazine. I have had good English teachers since but none that drove or inspired me as much as my 6th grade teacher and I’ve wondered what I would have become if I could have stayed with her longer or at least stayed in touch. Unfortunately we moved before my 6th grade year ended and I never met anyone who demanded good writing from me.
I continued to write and believed I had talent. Unfortunately I lost the best voice of reason and guide for my writing when I was twelve. Mrs. Joseline helped lay a firm foundation but I left way to soon for me to continue a straight path as a serious writer. I dreamed that someday I’d write a book and be a famous author. That is most likely where the train derailed. The desire to be a famous author is probably one of the worst reasons to write. The second worse reason is the desire to “share” your story when your story is unfinished, uninteresting and you are still an unformed writer.
I’m not published because I’ve submitted what I believed I should “share” instead of working, learning and refining the craft of writing. My submissions had been rejected, some kindly, others not so kindly and still others sent back with no comment whatsoever. I’ve saved my rejections but looked at them very little because of the discomfort I have with Rejection.
Recently (well about a year ago actually) I looked at the rejections and reread my submissions. I saw my writing in a completely new light and it was pretty bad. It wasn’t just the grammar, it was also the wrong word usage, hack phrases and unoriginal ideas. I needed Mrs. Joseline! It was difficult, no impossible to be objective about my own work when I’m head-over-heels in love with it. In giving the romance time to cool off, I saw that my submissions, while potentially promising, were really so much of all of what my beloved teacher would have nearly driven her red pen through the paper writing “RE-DO!”.
Writing continues to be a daily endeavor. I feel edgy and cross if I don’t write. As I get older (good grief, what a hack phrase!) I see my writing mature. I still fall in love with my stories but I can be more objective. There are several reasons for that: reading good writing, research, studying style and grammar are instrumental to elevating my level of writing. Unfortunately none of the those are as compelling as my old teacher, but they have added dimension and depth.
I also believe that age and maturity give a deeper perspective on content as well as insight. The writing of my twenties is so different from what I write now: I was kind of whiny and superior at the same time–really insufferable. That’s an unfortunate trait I’ve come across in reading other young writers and authors who spew forth haughty rants and cop lofty attitudes without having done enough living to back up any of the grandiose airs. It reads as shallow, hollow and fake.
My next step is to find another teacher or a real writing group that critiques and challenges me. I have so many projects and ideas that are undone. I know I’m a good starter but a lousy finisher. So frustrating. What will become of all I’ve done is not as pressing to me as finishing well what’s been started.