Getting better

Getting better is a really painful thing — for me, at least. I don't know about you. But getting better requires, as its precondition, that one admit a deficiency or inadequacy. I must get better means I am not good enough.

This poses a bit of a problem. I have a lot — a lot — of hopes, dreams, and opportunity costs tied up in the conviction that I am a good enough writer. But if there's still room for improvement, then obviously I'm not good enough. Since I must be, have to be good enough, there is therefore no need to improve. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Meanwhile, in another neighborhood in my brain, the thoughts are gathering to stage an intervention. "Laura," they say, "Better is not the opposite of bad. It's not 'be bad, then improve, then be better.' It can just as easily go this way: 'be fantastic, improve, be better.' See?" They nod encouragingly.

One thought steps forward from the crowd: this one, though kindly, is iron-stern: "Don't you owe your readers, your stories, yourself, the very best you can become? Yes, the best you can be right now, but even more, the best you can become? Do you think you, among all the people in the world, are off the hook for this one?"

Um, I think, glancing nervously from side to side. Um....

The stern thought reaches out, smacks me upside the head, and turns to go. It looks over its shoulder: "Now go. Write. Get better."


At 2:17 PM, Blogger Houston Dunleavy said...

Nicely put. Being who I am, with an ego as big as all outdoors... waits for someone to contradict this, but as no-one does, goes on... I would only take issue with the idea that you owe your readers something. I don't think you do. You only owe yourself the debt of being the very best - and that is a lifelong struggle for us all.

The readers, publishers, reviewers etc. can all go suck bunnies in the woods, because they will get the best of you whether they deserve it or not, because you are who you are - an artist.

At 4:06 AM, Anonymous Colleen said...

Hi, I thought it was past time I visited, & saw how you've been.
I'm grappling with this issue as usual, & yours is a very encouraging take on it. Thanks for sharing it!


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