Sunday, December 29, 2019

Eyes Front

I've gotten into the bad habit of looking back at the things that I've written over the past thirteen years, mainly because I'm either looking for something that I'd written about in the past, or checking to see that I'm not accidentally retreading old ground (I have, at least once, repeated a post after forgetting to update it out of "draft" status.)

I've come to regard reading my earlier writing as a bad habit because it always leaves me with the impression that I've failed at the primary point of starting this project in the first place: becoming a better writer. Despite the fact that I don't write this blog for a living, and nothing else particular important comes from it, I tend to see every mistake as an unforced error that should have been caught and corrected prior to publication.

Perhaps this doom me to always being an amateur author. I'm pretty sure that to make it as a professional, one needs the ability to, at some point, let go of the errors of the past. One chalks them up to learning experiences and proceeds onward. Which, to be sure, is how I tend to deal with my professional life. I've made errors at work before, and I suspect that I'm not done making them yet. But even though the stakes are higher, I find that I'm better about not stewing in them than I am when I'm doing something for my own personal enjoyment. I suspect that it's something of the serious teen that I once was reasserting himself. But I think that it's also the nature of work. On the job, we have managers and other people who will tell us how serious (or not) a specific error was. And for the most part, many of them aren't that serious, especially in the grand scheme of things; most businesses are robust enough that they can withstand someone having a bonehead moment now and again.

When I'm writing here, there's no-one to tell me that this error or that mistake is trivial. And so even though I understand that to be the case intellectually, there's always that little voice in my head that simply can't believe that I left out a word, or used a piece of punctuation wrong. And that points to the other reason I think that people can be harder on themselves in personal pursuits than in professional ones. For all that this weblog was intended to help me become a better writer, there's a part of me that stands firm in the belief that, as old as I am, I shouldn't need to improve. After all, pretty much every job that I've had as an adult has required me to convey information in writing to one degree or another. And I'm college educated at that. Why do I need to improve my writing, other than to do away with my own sloppiness?

In other words, I'm not at peace with the idea that what I'm doing can be legitimately difficult, even given that I'm an amateur. Which is strange, I think. I would have told you that of course I understood how difficult writing could be; after all, I started the project as a way to practice. But I think that what I didn't understand was the part of me that saw this as a means of confirming the "fact" that I was already a good writer. And the degree to which that part of me dislikes being contradicted.

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