The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.
– The History Boys
Whenever I sit down to write something new, I think to myself, ‘I want this to be great. I want the language to be lovely and artistic and intelligent.’ I want the story to be thought of as a beautiful story, not necessarily the plot, but in the way it’s written, in the words I’ve put down, how it all melds together. I want it to be one of those stories people go around quoting to others in some vain attempt to prove their superiority and knowledge of literature. Of course, that right there is revealing what I would do myself if only I had the chance.
The real problem with sitting down and wanting to write such a story is that you simply can’t. Those stories, those films and books and quotes people pluck from them didn’t come from someone sitting down determined to write a “beautiful story.” It was just someone sitting down to write a story and their words, their style of writing pulled it together into a beautiful story.
This idea is a wonderful idea, but it’s something that feels altogether unreachable. Perhaps it’s a matter of editing or perhaps it’s just a matter of the person putting it together. Every writer has different experiences to draw from and they put them together in different ways. Some of us are just too scared to really push and perhaps that’s where these stories come from.
Sometimes it just doesn’t work no matter how hard you try. Then again, that could be the problem. Perhaps you’re trying too hard. Trying too hard to make it live up to your own expectations. Is this where you give up? Erase the whole thing and sigh at the blank screen, cursor blinking mockingly at you as if it knows what you just did. Or is this where you press on no matter how horribly awry you think it’s gotten?
There’s always editing after all.
When I sit down to write, I wonder if I’ll love my finished product as much as I love the idea in my head. I wonder if other people will like it. I wonder if it’s worth it, but then I remind myself that it doesn’t matter if it’s a beautiful story as long as I like it. Get over those expectations because you’ll never meet them this way, not until you’ve accepted what you already have and learn to love it.