This is derivative, trite, totally conventional, unoriginal, and poorly written.
If I didn’t already know what I was thinking, if I was just overhearing what’s running through my mind as though it were someone else’s mind, I’d know I was thinking about my writing. I’ve begun working on my novel again. I can actually write these words without crying because I don’t actually believe them. These are words a little negative devil on my shoulder likes to employ. But, I’ve committed to remembering that I actually enjoy writing. I love it. And it’s all I want to do. Though it’s scary to admit that.
My first published work appeared in my high school literary journal. I remember writing something about how writing was a relief. Something about how a cool blue streak across a crisp white page somehow enabled me to exhale. Or maybe that’s what I would say now. Cool blue streak would be replaced by black Times New Roman. In any case, when I think about what I want to be doing, even when I try out new passions, I keep coming back to writing.
Writing is my thing.
So I can either choose to live the love, or torture myself through the process. It’s as simple as that. I can remember, “hey, I like writing,” so that I actually enjoy finishing this draft of the novel. Or I can berate myself, and hate finishing this draft of the novel. Either way, it’s getting finished. So why not enjoy it?
I love David Rakoff. He’s an essayist and a contributor to This American Life. He has a new book coming out called “Half Empty.” In his most recent interview on Fresh Air, Rakoff admitted he habitually employs the tactic of defensive pessimism. He says it can be preparatory – if you’re giving a speech, you’ll want to make sure your fly is up, because you consider yourself the type of person who would wander into the unfortunate luck of baring your boxers on stage.
Making a living as a “first-person journalist,” as he calls himself, takes guts. So I have to believe that underneath this defensive pessimism, is hope, and belief. I think it’s necessary to any creative pursuit – even if it’s just the belief that you’ll see it through and finish what you’ve started.
In another example of defensive pessimism, Rakoff even admitted to writing his own bad review – before his first book even came out. Before he even wrote it. He said, “Every essay by David Rakoff takes the same form, ‘I was stylishly dismissive of X, until I did X, when I realized that people are decent and I feel lonely-slash-sad-slash-fat.’”
It’s a comforting notion, writing your own bad review. It sort of reminds you that you’ve already said many more critical things about yourself than any other single person could possibly conjure up. So you’re good. I’m good.
And if all else fails, I remind myself I’ve got an amazing guy who loves me enough to whip out a ring and declare, on a random Sunday night, in pajamas, that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me.