Now or Later

I’m not as good of a writer as I’d like to be.

I’m really, really not. There’s all these stories I’d like to tell. There’s techniques I’d like to incorporate. And I can’t do it. Sometimes I don’t even know where to start.

It feels a little like trying to sing well. I know how I want my voice to sound, and the notes I’d like to reach but I just don’t have the control to do it.

This is not, I’m convinced, a matter of ‘gift’ or ‘talent’. I just haven’t trained the skills. I haven’t practiced enough.

Sometimes the knowledge that I haven’t practiced enough haunts me– usually when a scene I’m writing is falling short of my goals. Then I want to give up, tuck the story away and do something else: read a book on technique, or start a new project that won’t be so difficult, or take a nap and hope I wake up feeling better.

But books on technique don’t make up for practice and repetition, and one thing I know I need to practice is finishing works, and I can take a nap later. I have to sacrifice some of my ideas on the altar of self-improvement. If I don’t write, I’m not going to get better. And if I don’t get better I won’t ever be able to tell those other stories I want to tell, the ones that dance in my head out of reach because I haven’t climbed high enough yet.

If I want to write all the stories I dream of writing, I have to write. Now or later. Better to suck it up now, yes?

As somebody wise told me about the handy small child’s first attempt at making a peanut butter sandwich: good jobs often follow terrible ones.

PS: I don’t think¬†NIGHTLIGHTS is terrible. But it could be. It’s probably not the astonishing work of unexpected brilliance I’d like it to be, either. You’ll have to let me know in July.

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