30 October 2011

is this good?

Caution: I am about to toot my own horn a teeny bit.

I have been told I am a good writer. To those of you who have said this to me, thank you.It really means a lot.

But as I sit here, writing this piece instead of one of the two papers I have due on Tuesday, I have to wonder: what constitutes a good writer? How do we know the difference?

If a good writer is determined by writing habits, then I doubt I qualify. I mean, I’m using this bit of writing here to procrastinate on writing something that will actually be assessed and graded. I do not exactly have my priorities straight at this moment in time. Also, as I am sure you have noticed (or can see by the pattern in the archives of this blog), I am not consistent. I write in spurts,and then am negligent for a while until I find inspiration or motivation or something. When I am compelled, I write. Otherwise, I fill my time in another way. Not exactly the most sustainable way to be a good writer.

If a good writer is determined by subject matter, then my qualification is also debatable. When people ask me what I write about, I am always at a loss for words. How would you answer? Life? My thoughts? Nothing? Everything? I cannot answer the question appropriately because I don’t know what the answer is. As a result, I either sound like a pretentious douchebag or an oblivious idiot, neither of which (I hope) accurately describe me. Is it possible to be a good writer when I don’t even know exactly what it is I write about? Jury’s still out.

If a good writer is determined by voice, then I guess I am okay. I know that there are very few people who share my point of view, and there are even fewer who articulate themselves in the same way. My word choice and syntax are uniquely my own, and for that I am grateful. But just because I have a distinctive style does not mean that it is any good. Valley girls have a distinctive style, but that doesn’t make them any less irritating.

So where does this breakdown leave me? Exactly where I was when I started—unsure of myself and my abilities, yet somehow still eager to persist. Maybe being a good writer is being a little bit stupid, intensely self-critical, and extraordinarily caffeinated. If that is the case, then I think I may have a bright future ahead of me. I may even be able to develop into a great writer. Of course, there is the possibility that I might spiral downward into a mess of frustration and hindered social skills. The two are not mutually exclusive. But hey, if I’m a great writer, people will be able to understand me regardless,and may even cite my idiosyncrasies as lovable quirks.


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