Not Everything You Write Is a Home Run
The hard work is stepping up to the plate and swinging.
On June 29th, in a stadium built solely for the occasion, in a country where American baseball isn’t a readily grasped concept, New York Yankee Right Fielder Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate in the 4th inning and landed a two run home run against the Red Sox.
Despite the fact that I was in an upscale, nicely decorated establishment enjoying a Sunday Mimosa, I jumped up and screamed. It was pure magic. The next time he stepped up to the plate he struck out. I still love the kid.
I received a comment on a recent piece that threw me for a loop. Criticism is frequent and swift when you’re a writer. Someone once emailed me directly to tell me that I was pedestrian, self absorbed and not nice and that was why my marriages failed. Good to know. I was trying to figure out why that was…
This was different. The comment had a lot of praise and encouragement but noted that the reader, who had read much of my work, was disappointed in this piece. It wasn’t to the standard he can come to expect from me. Not by a long shot. My God, that hurt.
But this piece isn’t about him. It isn’t for him. I’m not here to shame him for his feedback. I harbor no ill feelings. This is for every single writer that sits down every single day and does the hard work. The writers that show up.
I was happy with the piece. It was well received. Was there more I could have said? Sure. Could I have said things differently? Sure. Did I feel like unleashing the underlying vitriol inside me that drove me to put proverbial pen to paper? Not that day. I didn’t have it in me. I just wanted to make a point. I kept it simple.
It was a political piece and those terrify me. I can write about my life, my experiences and my feelings without fear. I own those. This was different. My comfort level isn’t there yet but, Jesus, I did it anyway.
Writing about tangible events, people or news is a scary proposition. I could be wrong. My words can be misconstrued. I wrote it at the end of a 50 hour week. I wanted to get it out there before the weekend started. I worked on it for over two hours. A four minute read took over two hours. I did the best I could.
Being a writer means knowing when to let go. After wrestling with something for long enough, you have to give yourself permission to publish it. To tell yourself that, today, it’s the best you can do.
If I seconded guessed everything I’ve written throughout my lifetime, I would have published about four things. Doubt is the destroyer of creativity. Impostor Syndrome is a menace that walks alongside us, poking us in the ribs with a stick.
As writers, we can’t hit it out of the park every time we step up to the plate. Oh, how I wish I could. But the pressure is there all the same. We stare down the same 95 mph fast ball hoping it doesn't clock us in the head before we have a chance to swing.
The home runs will happen but we have to cut ourselves some slack that it’s going to happen every time. It’s too much pressure. We can’t concern ourselves with everyone else’s expectations. We’d never get anything done.
We will disappoint readers. We will anger them. Some will walk away from us completely. It’s fine. For independent writers who work without editors, who sometimes struggle to find the inspiration, the energy and the time, it’s a tight rope walk. It’s blind faith in the process.
Once you lose faith in the process, you lose hope. Your creativity will shrivel up. You’ll stop going to the page. Your voice will leave you and go find someone else that with willing to let it be heard. Don’t give your voice to someone else. You’re worthy of it, even when you’re not your best. You’re still there.