I went to a small high school in the middle of the desert. Within my diverse set of classmates, there were dozens of nationalities and some incredible talents. Guys who dunked baskets and made it look easy, people with incredible voices, exceptional artists and musicians and top-of-the-class brainiacs ready to take on the world. Everyone was going to know our names.
It's important to know that this was 1990-something *cough*, so the Internet was in its social infancy. MSN chatrooms and platforms like IQ were safe, with *hh* and *brb* a far cry from the dick pics of the future. Being so secluded - in the middle of the desert - it was easy to think that the talent I found myself surrounded by was talent impressive enough to take over the world. Almost everyone I knew was going to be a famous-something-or-other!
Of course, this was not the case. The world is pretty huge. The world is also full of incredibly talented people. So how many of my former classmates are 'famous'? None. Well, one is an Arabic pop star, so famous in some regions of the world at least. Are they happy? Yes. Or at least, I hope so. When I come across them on various social networking platforms they have good and/or interesting jobs, families and all the other things that society dictates 'should' make someone happy.
So, why am I talking about my classmates? What is the point of all this reminiscing? Well, as you may have guessed, I thought I was pretty special too. I was going to be an actress. It had been on my top five careers from the age of 8 (writer, cartoonist, singer, teacher were the other four in case you were wondering) and I was certain it was going to be no problem!
As you might have noticed from this blog, I am not an actress. So what? Dreams don't always pan out.
Suck it up Buttercup!
Whoa! Bear with me. So, I got to thinking recently about my skills. That's not true. I got scared. I started to think that my writing was average at best and not worth publishing. I started to think that this was a hopeless exercise.
You can give doubt truth if you try hard enough.
I loved drawing. I did AP Art in senior year and did okay. I held an art exhibition with a friend. I designed the cover of our literary magazine one year. I thought my art was good. I look back and think it was okay. Do I draw anymore? No. Not really. Could I draw as well as my 17-year old self? Nope. My artistic skill was mediocre.
I loved acting. I got a part in every theatre audition I went to (with the exception of Grease, because I'd never seen it and couldn't get my mouth around the words of 'We Go Together') and even though they were never the lead parts, I loved it. I still love being up on stage and it's something I want to revisit at some point in the future. Did I pursue a career in it though? No. Did I practise and hone my skill? No. My acting is mediocre.
I loved singing. I still do. I sang in the choir. I had solos. I sang musical theatre. I auditioned for a couple of talent shows (X Factor style) and got through the first round each time. But I never had a lesson. I didn't pursue it. I lead the choir at my school now, so I still get to immerse myself in music, but I didn't keep at it. My singing is mediocre.
So, writing. I've always written. It's something that hasn't dimmed or faded. I might not have written novels consistently since 8, but I have written diaries, poetry (so much teen angst poetry) and plays and started many a story in the decades that followed my desert dwelling. Now, through Twitter and Instagram and events like NaNoWriMo, I have started to build and flex my writing muscles like never before.
Here lies the question then. Is my writing mediocre?
This thought torments me and keeps me up at night. It throws me down into the deepest pits of despair and self pity where I wallow in wine and Pringles. Is this as good as it gets? Is this the same as everything else I thought I was great at? Is this the small-mindedness of youth still telling me that I'm a special little snowflake?
No. I have to believe that it's not. Practise makes perfect. If I'd practised any of my other skills, I know I would be better at them now. But which skill brings me the most joy? Writing. Writing brings me so much joy it hurts, and unless the people that read my work are really mean liars, it brings them joy too.
Mediocre isn't an end state. It's a midway point. It's a point where you keep going, persevere and improve, or you turn away and let the ability weaken.
So, this Buttercup is going to persevere.
My writing might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it'll be someone's shot of whiskey and I've just got to keep going until I find that person.