Practice and discipline

It’s hard as an aspiring writer to sit back and read a book and not compare myself to the author of said book. Am I alone in this? I know I’m not. I remember feeling that when I became a music major twenty years ago, and I would listen to another student perform. I couldn’t help but feel that my own talent was lacking. So I quit.

It took me a few years, but I learned enough to know that I didn’t have what it takes to be a musician. For someone on the outside looking in, it looks like it could be fun, and it is, but it’s called a discipline for a reason. To achieve any measurable success, either as a performer or a teacher, requires hours of grueling practice and studying, and I lacked the discipline to work at it. The only honest thing I could do was to walk away, and for years I was lost.

A few years later, I dropped out entirely, and my life has taken a circuitous route  though life, adrift on the seas of time, having neither purpose nor direction, and when you have no destination in mind, it’s amazing how long it takes to get nowhere!

But eventually you will collide with something, which I did in 2011 and going into 2012. My life fell apart, and everything I had, everything I had worked, I lost piece by piece, until I had nothing left. Even my pride was reduced to a pile of ash, blown away by the wind.

Keeping up with the nautical metaphor, writing became my lifesaver, keeping my head above water as I tried to find my bearings. Being adrift for so long, with no mind on my direction, it took another year for me to begin to rebuild. I went back to school, taking a Grammar and Writing class to end my academic career. Writing, it seemed, became my new goal.

But when I read the professional practitioners of the art form, I’m struck by how eloquent they sound in my mind. I read my own, and I feel lacking again in talent. Perhaps you’re not cut out for this, my inner doubt tells me, feeding my insecurities. You’ll never be a real writer. Why not give up?

Why not? Because this time, I won’t walk away. I have something to say, so I’m going to say it. I may not use the most flowery language, but that’s not my style. I’m rather prosaic in style, direct and to the point. If something is blue, it’s blue and not azure. If someone is in love, they are in love and not enamored. I’m not adept at creating imagery with words, but I don’t believe that’s necessary to the tales I’ve decided to tell.

I trade in reality instead of fantasy, though I am a fan of the latter. I hope that doesn’t mean that the reader will be unable to create the scenes in their minds as they read my simple words. I have stories to tell, simple and hopefully with some underlying truth. I try not to be allegorical in my storytelling. I don’t want to preach or teach a lesson. What I write is personal to me in some way, and my characters are a reflection of me, of my suffering and joys, of what I am and what I wish I could be.

I believe my writing has matured as I’ve become more practiced with the written word. Next month will be my four-year anniversary of my blog, and I just completed my fourth NaNoWriMo this past November. I’ve written and rewritten many of my books, and I’ve read and I’ve reviewed almost two dozen novels. I’m just getting started.

I’m still a musician, if you want to know, though now I play solely for my benefit. I hope to buy an electric guitar in the near future and learn to play some of my favorite rock tunes. But my music is to soothe my own inner demons even if I still dream of being a rock star.

But I don’t have the discipline to be a musician, but I hope I’ve proven to myself that I do have it for becoming a writer. I’ve toiled in obscurity, known only because I’ve chosen to share a bit of my madness unseen via this simple blog. I dream of more, of having my reach extended, as do other writers, to include a larger audience. I want to be read, and my books enjoyed, by as many people as possible.

Until then, I’ll continue to hone my skills in private, sharing snippets to gauge if I’m ready to risk failure and success. I may not be as good a writer as the authors I read, but in my style, they will never be as good as I am. I will never have their successes, but why should that mean I can’t have my own? I just have to keep practicing.


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