Someone suggested that I deal with the root of why I can’t write. The stress itself. I struggled a lot in first semester because in school grades matter. The difference between an A and a B could mean the difference between your registration being 1 hour sooner which is the difference between getting into the workshop you need to graduate or not. There’s a lot of pressure to measure up to the standard of “good” that the professors deem acceptably “good”. And after everything I went through in first semester, I left disappointed. In myself and in the system. I have a perfectionist complex, and if I don’t meet things to my level of what I think is acceptable I get down on myself.
It’s not that I can’t write, it’s that I feel I can’t write to the standard expected of me by the professors who are grading and judging me. Whenever I’ve thought I had something great I’d receive a much lower grade, and although I’m there to learn, I feel like the environment isn’t as conducive to learning as I expected. It’s not that I want to quit. I worked too goddamn hard to get in to quit. But my expectations of the learning environment are a lot different. Basically it as to do with expectation vs reality. Writers are very self-conscious of their writing (at least I am). I think it’s because when we write something we pour our heart and soul into the characters and the story. It makes us vulnerable.
To turn around and then have a group of peers and professors judge you on that is not just nerve wracking, but also hits my self-confidence in my ability to write. I want to write things that people enjoy reading and can relate to, and obviously not everyone is going to enjoy my writing, I mean, even I know I have a long way to go and a lot of improvements to make. Heck, re-reading some of my book makes me cringe because I’ve learned so many useful techniques that I can apply to it and make it that much better. But I want to learn in an uplifting environment. I don’t want to go to class and be like “Oh, I wonder which taboo thing I did this time in my writing.”
Apparently I write a lot of cliche things that I don’t know are cliche. You’d think with the amount of books I read (47 this year) I’d know what’s cliche and what’s not, but I’m not very knowledgeable with all the technical lingo of writing. I just write. I write and the story grows and the characters grow, and soon they’re out there living and I’m doing everything I can just to keep up behind them to document their journey. How do you judge someone on their ability to properly document someone else’s journey? Because people are cliche, they say weird things, and do things out of order. People aren’t perfect, so why should their journey be?
In order to write again I need to re-find that place where the writing is solely mine and not about what other people may think of it. I need to accept that from a technical, university standard, I might not be an A+ writer. But that doesn’t matter. What matters in writing is being true to yourself as an author, and being true to your characters and who they are as people. If you love and are passionate about your characters, other people will see that bleed through the writing. That’s why some of the best books aren’t necessarily the best written. I started this journey because I want to proudly hang that BFA on my wall, but in doing so I don’t want to look back and think I sold out just to make the grade.
I want to beat the system knowing I stayed true to my own authorial self and that I never wrote my characters out of character. I need to always be myself, and my characters also need to be their own self as well. And if that’s not good enough for my professors, then I guess I was never cut out for this school thing to begin with. Because ultimately it should be more important to me to be true to my writing, than for me to get an A, because that’s what writing is really about. It’s about finding those people and stories you are most passionate about and sharing them with other people who want to read them and can love them the way you do. Writing might be a solo act, but it brings people together too. Storytelling is where this began. A group of people sitting together and swapping ideas. And that’s where I want to stay.