While I was at the store with my girlfriend earlier today, I asked her this: “If I ever showed you some writing that was a piece of shit, you’d tell me, right?” Of course, she told me she would, and I know she will if (or when) the situation arises. But then she said, “Why? Do you think some of the things you’ve showed me is crap?” I’m not sure if I answered her vocally, but I did take the time to think about that what she asked.
I’ve come to the conclusion that, initially, when I first showed her, and other people, my writing, I didn’t think it was crap.* However, as I began to write more and experienced new things in life, looking back at some of my old writing caused me to cringe. There is going to be some bad writing, that is simply unavoidable, but just because something isn’t good doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. I know for a fact that (at least in my opinion) there are some poems and short pieces of writing of mine that are just horrible. There are also some that I just don’t think are good, and in the mind of an artist, that means it’s terrible.
“You are your worst critic” is a quote I’m sure you’ve probably heard, and I think that’s true. Whenever I finish writing a new poem or short story, I immediately seek out for someone to read it. I’m used to people telling me how much they love my writing and how amazing it is, and after hearing all those compliments, I feel good and sort of ignore the writing from that point on until I go back and read it. It isn’t until later that I realize that maybe I’ve made an embarrassing typo, or see that the writing really wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Looking back on my work, because it isn’t “perfect,” I would label it trash. Of course there are some pieces of writing that I am really proud of, but I’d let all my negative thoughts about the not-so great ones get me into such a sour mood. The worse thought to ever cross my mind at one point was “either my writing isn’t that bad, or everyone is being too nice– unless my writing does suck and they just think it’s good.”
It took a lot of time, but I’m not as harsh on myself as I used to be. That being said, I also know that everything that I write won’t be perfect. Even though not everything that pops out of my head will be a masterpiece, I have to realize that everything I do write is helping to shape who I am, not only as a writer, but as a person. As long as I keep writing, I will get better. I’ll write more things that I am proud of, and I’ll also take pride in the things that make me cringe. All of my writing, good and bad, tells a story. It is a journey into my mind to see life as I experienced it. I guess, all in all, self-criticism isn’t really a bad thing, as long as you don’t shoot your dreams out of the sky.
*Man, I use a lot of commas, don’t I?