I have found that I am more eloquent when I write than when I speak. Now, if you have ever heard me speak, or have any common sense, this will not surprise you. I tend to speak just below the speed of light with the lovely, un-enunciated accent of the Northwest, full of jumbled ideas and desperate thoughts. Thus the blank page is marked with a sense of relief; I can erase jumbled words, delete inarticulate opinions, and present myself, five drafts later, as a person who knows the subject they speak about.
So success is found when people understand what I am trying to convey – be it an idea or an emotion – and tell me so. This is especially pertinent to this blog; there is a comment function, and it’s delightful when people use it. My writing professor reminded us the first week of class that writers are a rather “needy” bunch, and while I hate the connotations that word carries (the overly attached girlfriend, anyone?), I must acknowledge its accuracy. When writing, I feel most successful when people respond positively to what I have to say, or, at least, how I say it.
“But Libby,” you may wonder, “what about the pieces you write that never see the light of day? What about the notebooks of discarded poetry, the completed-but-abandoned novel, the sentences jotted down on doomed scraps of paper? Are those things failures?” If I define success for those projects as I did in the above paragraph, then yes, those things are failures. But I don’t consider them to be bad failures (yes, even I, perfectionist that I am). Those poems, that novel, those unexpanded thoughts: they are a different kind of success. The dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose,” and so I can consider those things as successful in that they served a purpose: practice. Writing well is an art, and art demands practice. Thus, here I am, typing these sentences with a dual purpose, and thus twice the hope of success: for the practice of writing, and for a well-received paper.
2 thoughts on “sweet success”
I relate to what you said about communicating better in writing than in speaking. Sometimes it can be really frustrating when people don’t understand what you’re really trying to say, and writing helps with that. Although it’s nice to think of our opinions of our own writing being based solely on our own satisfaction, I’m sure the element of what others think has an effect on all writers. We are very needy. 🙂 I also liked what you said about practice being its own kind of success.
Libby, I really like the two types of writing success you identify here, especially the practice writing which, as you point out, is necessary for the other kind of successful writing to materialize!