On Writing and Hallmark Birthday Cards

I’ve always been a writer. From the moment I could speak the English language somewhat coherently and after much handwriting practice, I was writing. I wrote my first “book” when I was eight, which I dreamed of getting published (although looking back, it is highly unlikely that this would have happened; it was almost illegible and my only critics were my parents.) But still, I imagined my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble with all my adoring fans surrounding it, whilst I stood proudly to the side. “Yes, yes”, I would say, “I’m the author of this magnificent little book.” In my mind, I was The Greatest Author That Had Ever Lived.

Then middle school happened, puberty set in, and I wasn’t sure about anything anymore, including my writing. I went from The Greatest Author That Had Ever Lived to The Worst Writer That Had Ever Walked the Earth. As you may or may not have noticed, I tend to go to extremes. So while it was wonderful that I was becoming more critical of my writing, it came to the point where I was so concerned about what other people thought that it took all the fun out of writing.

And now here I am, with my own little blog, and I am trying to find balance. Again, you might have observed that this is a reoccurring theme in my life. I want to better myself as a writer while still having fun. I also want to be able to take constructive criticism for what it is: a way that I can improve my writing according to one particular person. It does not mean that I am a horrible writer and that I should just STOP writing.

Still, if you are anything like me, this is extremely hard to do. I’ve always been a sensitive person who takes everything a little too personally. Every time I get an English paper back (which is graded by mysterious online graders), I dread seeing the comments in red pen. The red pen means bad. It means God you are so stupid. You can’t even write a 9th grade essay! Dramatic? Oh yeah. Especially since the dreaded “red remarks” could simply mean that I forgot to double space a paragraph.

But some “criticism” can actually be helpful. Reflecting on what I’ve written, sometimes days afterwards, helps to give me perspective. What would I have done differently? What did I really like? I try to find both the positives and negatives and store them away for later reference.

As far as my blog goes, I’m still trying to figure out what direction I want to take it. Writing everyday has definitely been…interesting. It’s challenged me and it’s brought out the perfectionist in me full force. I want to write quality posts and not just post for the sake of saying I did. At the same time (there are so many dialectics in life), I realize that all of what I write doesn’t have to be this amazing, award-winning material. It’s not meant to be.

Still, I’ll admit that some of what I’ve written so far this month has been quite rushed and ended up being something completely different from what I imagined. Take, for example, my birthday letter to my mama. When I posted it last night, I was completely satisfied with it. This morning, as I read it over, it sounded like a Hallmark birthday card. Don’t get me wrong, I meant every word of it and all of it was true. But it still sounded a bit generic and I felt I hadn’t captured the essence of my mother the way I had wanted to.

This, I suppose, is partly because I didn’t write it ahead of time (I’m an eternal procrastinator) and partly because I’ll never be able to write about something exactly the way I want.

So, in the end, I could have put much more effort into my last post. I could have written a 60 page novel about my mama. But it’s okay that I didn’t. I wasn’t trying to win a Pulitzer prize; I wanted to celebrate my mother and even through it sounded a bit like a Hallmark card, that’s okay too. Not everyone needs to know all the back stories and all the things she’s done. Because I know and that’s enough.

As BlogTember continues and beyond, I want to put more effort into my writing. I want to write about whatever I feel inspired to, whether that be a Friday Favorites or a passion filled post about the ridiculousness of the media’s portrayal of women. To sum it up: I want to challenge myself as a writer, while still having lots of fun.

Because I will never be a “perfect” writer but I can become a better one and enjoy every minute of it.

-Sarah

No questions, just your thoughts!

And yes, I realize this was quite a “rambly” post. I was thinking out loud (too bad it wasn’t Thursday, right?:)

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7 thoughts on “On Writing and Hallmark Birthday Cards

  1. Extremes? People like us? No way!

    It’s funny, I can totally relate. That desire to make your writing just so, to the point of not writing at all because you know you won’t be able to say it right. Yet, at the same time, the crazy urge to literally spill your guts out on a page regardless of whether it makes sense or not, just to get them all out of you. It’s true, we always have to remind ourselves that it’s okay to not be perfect, and that in the end while we strive to better ourselves, the best we could do on that day in that moment really is good enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think when you go through puberty, a lot of things really start clicking, and you start understanding more of the world, and realizing you aren’t the best author in the world is natural. I know the same thing happened to me. When I was younger, I was oblivious to my shortcomings, and thought I had it together (and not just in writing). The older I get, the more of those shortcomings I see, and the important thing is to not let it discourage you. Because it can seem like you are becoming a worse and worse person (or worse and worse at what you do) but in reality, it’s just that you can see and understand more than you could previously.

    So I’m agreeing with you; don’t let your self-doubt kill your passion. Don’t let your self-doubt kill *anything*!

    I also understand the perfectionist thing. I have the same problem! I don’t think your post sounded like a Hallmark card, although I can appreciate the feeling! I felt the same way with my mother’s day post that I made. I thought you did a much better job than I could have! (I know we have different moms, but the sentiment is the same. 😉 ) Also, the fact that you tried, and actually put something out there is great, because I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that, since I “know” I wouldn’t be able to do it “good enough”. I liked your point about how we don’t have to know all the back stories and things that make your mom special. You and I know what it is about our moms that make them special, and for us, that’s enough. For people like my sister who can express their feelings about people perfectly in writing, that’s great! But you and I don’t need to pressure ourselves to do it perfectly. ❤

    P.S. I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I totally understand if you don't have time/don't want to do it, especially since we're in the middle of Blog-tember!
    https://cracksinthefence.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/sunshine-blogger-award/

    Liked by 1 person

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