It’s a universal desire to be good at what we do, to excel within the parameters of our passions. As writers, this is no exception. We are all in search of that spark- the little flicker of a flame that will light our way to those we hope to reach. We hold ourselves to the highest of standards and stare in defeat at the work we continue to denounce as ‘not good enough.’ We are writers, our existence by its very nature is mired in self-doubt.
And yet…and yet…the more I immerse myself in this world, the more I realize- I’m chasing a rainbow that has no damn end. You see, becoming a ‘good’ writer is subjective. I adore Victorian classics, while my friends thinks they are only good for putting you to sleep after a long day. I have found certain books that I could not for the life of me get past the third chapter; and yet literally thousands of other people proclaim that same title to be their all-time favorite; their own copies battered, well-worn, and (gasp) dog eared. Oh yes, my friends, the dog-ear epidemic is a true horror story. And buying the afflicted readers their own bookmarks does not seem to cure their ails. Once infested, they must never borrow another book ever again. I know- Harsh punishments for harsh crimes.
I have a slew of writers I wish I could emulate. I am deeply envious of J.K Rowling’s eye for detail. I turn green with jealousy at the easy way J.R.R Tolkien created a world almost more elaborate than our own. I lust after the idea of creating a nerdy-science-action thriller like James Rollins. And yes, I have been known to swoon for the adorable play-on-words you will discover in the lines of Norton Juster. And no, my dear friends, do not get me started on the creative concepts and thoughtful breath of life that Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss give their creations; they are deliciously diabolical in the best possible ways.
And yet, to some of you, these names will mean nothing. Perhaps you may find them a tad overrated, or not all that enjoyable. And why is that? Because what I find to be good is subjective. We do not have to agree to both be right.
Which brings me to my main point (believe it or not, I did have one, though I only discovered it somewhere amidst the third paragraph). Why are we constantly judging our work by other writer’s standards? We can be good and not be like them. I will never be J.K Rowling, sad fact. I will never weave elegant phrases or silly quips quite like some of the masters I adore. But does that mean that my work does not have credence, does not do me justice? No. It means that if I keep judging my fishy self by my ability to climb a tree, then I will forever live my life feeling like I am not good enough. I’m a fish. And damn it, I can swim with the whales if I want to (okay, not realistic because I’m actually afraid of deep water, but let’s get temporary amnesia and roll with the analogy).
The craft of writing is mired in the pits of self-doubt. We would not be creators if we were confident in every little bookish-beast we kissed on the head and sent out into the world. And yes, some of our work may soar, and some of it may sink deep below the roiling waves. But guess what, my friends: to someone out there- you are J.K Rowling, or Neil Gaiman, or whoever it is you love and feel inspired by. You do that for someone else. Because you love your craft and you have a distinct voice that someone out there is desperate to hear, a voice that cannot be mimicked or emulated. You are a writer because you love it, and you love it because, when all is said and done, you were meant to do it. The passion burns inside you for a reason. And you, my friend, will someday be the rainbow that another writer is chasing.
Yes, I know that I am not J.K. Rowling, I am not any of my favorite authors. But I am no longer trying to be. Because I am me: I am Kaitlynn Knable (good luck pronouncing that last name, heroes have attempted and fallen at the weighty task). These authors I wish I could be; their skills sets are not mine, and by that same token, the skills that I bring to the table are not theirs. I can do what they cannot just as easily as they can do what I cannot. We have different voices, we are singing different songs, and they are meant for different people who all need them just the same.
For at least one night, I am going to convince myself that being this writer right here is good enough. No, not good enough. Just good. And you know what, my friends, you are too. You are inspiring. And you deserve to measure yourself by your own standards and not by anyone else’s. Because the stories that you have to share with the world are completely and wholly you. Your words will lose their power if you try to speak them in someone else’s voice. Yes- even if it is a voice you really, really like. Your words will lose their power if they don’t come from you, spoken in the only way you know how. That is what gives them meaning, that is what makes a writer inspiring.
We are writers. And we are good at it. We are fish. We do not climb trees, we swim with the whales. And that’s pretty damn cool. (Also, that fin looks really good on you. And those bubbles- they bring out the color in your eyes).