The prompt: Writing. ( What’s this? http://www.reverb10.com/the-prompts/ )
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing —and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)
(WARNING: In the first third of this story, I am going to seem quite full of myself. In the second third, I’ll appear a little too hard on myself. I’ll let the final third be a surprise.)
In seventh grade, I wrote a paper on the topic “What Makes Of Mice and Men a Classic?” I can’t remember what my argument was, but the final, oh-so-creative line went something like: “…and that is why Of Mice and Men is a classic.” The teacher’s comment which followed, however, has been tattooed on my soul: “…and so is this paper. This is the best paper I have ever read by a seventh grader. Well done, Madeleine.”
I coasted on that adrenaline rush all the way through senior year of high school. I had an identity now – Best Seventh Grade Writer, and I liked it. Of course I would major in English Lit. Of course I would have a job someday that involved writing. Duh.
Then came college. In my freshman year, I wrote my first college essay for an Introduction to Communications class. I also have a soul tattoo of this teacher’s comment: “This essay ignores or doesn’t understand most of the basic rules of writing structure. You may want to consider transferring from this course to this other, more remedial writing course.” Okay, he didn’t use the term remedial, but he suggested a dumbed-down writing course for those not prepared for such lofty intellectual pursuits as Introduction to Communications.
And just like that, I had a new identity. I was Worst College Freshman Writer…Ever. I limped my way through four more years and got my degree and I couldn’t tell you most of what I wrote about. It was agony. And I graduated and, with a few exceptions, didn’t write again. For fifteen years.
Until last week. When I started this blog, and reverb 10, all at once.
The Buddhists would call this problem addiction to praise and aversion to blame. The Yogis would call it attachment to action’s fruit. What my own small experience of meditation and yoga has taught me is that if writing is ever going to bring me pleasure again, I have to engage in writing for it’s own sake, with no expectation of outcome.
In other words, if you like this post, I will continue writing forever. If you don’t like it, I’m never going to write again. No pressure!