I’m teaching a senior portfolio seminar this semester (two sections, actually), and we spend a lot of time talking about crafting your professional identity. It’s work, I tell my students, and they believe me, and hey, I’m right, but I suck at following my own advice.
The trouble is I’ve hardly been writing. I’ve hardly been reading. It’s the end of April and I haven’t posted my year-in-review books post yet because, hey, I don’t have much to say anyway. 2013 marked my worst reading year in a long time—probably since I learned how to read. 2013 was also another year in which I didn’t get any bites on my writing, and I finished the year with one book review published and one personal rejection for my fiction.
There’s no doubt about it: I’m losing steam. It’s no secret that I doubt myself in a lot of ways. I’m so afraid of writing poorly that I don’t write. Which is funny, because I don’t actually have a lot of problems submitting once I do have a piece. But I wrote exactly two new pieces in 2013, and so far I haven’t even started a new piece in 2014. I’m behind in the other literary-related commitments I’ve taken on—so far behind, in fact, that in some ways I’m really having to resist the temptation to just disappear because otherwise it means owning up to how irresponsible I’ve been. Yes, I’m balancing teaching with everything else, but plenty of people have figured out how to make it work for them. And yet.
I stopped setting goals for all of this, because I was getting too frustrated with never meeting them. And yet.
I want to write. I really do. I don’t need to write (and I’m suspicious of anyone who says they do). I even think writing is something I have a talent for, though I’ve learned in these past few years that my talent isn’t as great as I’d thought when I was younger. It’s hard to accept that you might be average. It’s hard to admit that your failures are all your own, with no qualifications or excuses.
I’m not here today to make any promises, to say how often I’m going to write, or blog, or read. I’m not even going to think on those things, because I’m afraid that the only outcome for me is disappointment, and I just can’t take more of the disappointment right now. And yet.
With every word comes the potential to fail. With every word comes the potential to be great.by