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.