I have found, in recent years, that I have a very distorted view of my own writing. Things I think are crap are considered by some to be emotionally evocative and raw. It rarely happens the other way around.
I realized this is mostly due to my attitude when I wrote it. I tend to think a lot of my writing is mediocre and dull, or cheesy and sub-par. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I am uncomfortable writing the things that I write.
Don’t get me wrong; I love writing what I write. I just feel uncomfortable doing it. I tend to be embarrassed about the fact that I write romance or young adult literature. I tend to also be embarrassed about the fact that I read that stuff too. But I like what I like, and I need to learn to have some self-compassion and let myself be okay with the things that I like.
Another thing that clued me in to the fact of this distortion was a conversation I had today, and a conversation I had a while ago.
The conversation a while ago was based on my cousin reading a poem that I had written that had been published in the end-project of a writer’s retreat. Everyone had two pieces published of their choice, one poem and one prose. My prose was mediocre, but I liked it for it’s humorous content. Plus I thought it was the best piece of writing I had done at the camp (pretty pathetic when you think about it). The poem was crappy in my opinion. It had been in response to a prompt: use a cliche as the theme of your poem, but try to stay away from actually mentioning that cliche. I chose a wolf in sheep’s clothing as my cliche.
I was completely unaffected while writing that poem. Just wondering what words I could use to get around the cliche. I came up with “poison in a cupcake” and other imagery (I think I’m terrible at imagery, but who really knows?). I was debating between that poem and a poem on writing. I chose the wolf in sheep’s clothing because a poem on why you write is so standard these days.
When my cousin read it she said it was “intense”. I was surprised because I had never gotten that feeling writing the poem. I was completely baffled from the way she perceived it. I thought it was crap. But I also don’t consider myself a poet. I am uncomfortable writing poetry because I over think things, such as where to end the line or stanza of a poem. I also don’t think I’m very good at coming up with good imagery on a consistent basis, something that has been disputed every single time I read someone an excerpt of my writing.
The second conversation was today. I was reading a piece of writing I had written in high school out loud to my grandma while we were in the car. I was saying how I thought it was cheesy and basically crap, while explaining that I was trying to make it a good opening scene with a lot of imagery. The scene was describing a girl from the point of view of a guy who found her attractive. Cheesy and completely awkward for me to write. Not to mention that this was based on true events and the girl I was describing was me and I was trying to look at it through my crush’s point of view. Nothing will make me as uncomfortable as trying to describe myself from a guy’s point of view. I was so self-conscious and laughing at the absurdity of my high school self as I was reading to my grandma.
Who surprised me. After I had dismissed the writing as cheesy and terrible, she said to me “I didn’t think it was.” I, again, couldn’t fathom the way she was seeing what I had written, mostly because it was too close to my personal experience for me to distance myself from it.
Both times I had been uncomfortable writing the pieces I shared. And both times, the people I shared them with thought they were a hell of a lot better than I thought they were.
Maybe it’s my inner critic that makes me see things in such a way. Or maybe it’s because I’m embarrassed about what I write and read to the point that my embarrassment clouds my judgement. Either way, I think it’s a safe bet that what I write is at least a little better than what I think it is. It may even be a lot better than I think it is. And I won’t know until I share it.