I used to be a good writer.
I was blessed and cursed throughout my adolescent years with a generous amount of natural intelligence, and while I wasn’t a genius by any means, I generally didn’t need to study to do well on tests. My GPA was somewhere in the high-3s and more often than not, I was complemented for my knowledge rather than my looks or people skills (I had, and have, very few of either).
I was always in honors English classes. My junior high had an extensive writing workshop that taught us the best of formulaic writing. Topic sentence. Claim one. Support. Support. Claim two. Support. Support. Concluding sentence. Repeat. I’m thankful (to an extent) for that, because since then, I’ve been able to glide rather easily through writing essays the day before they’re due.
The problem, I think, is that I lack depth. I’m a surface level writer, whether I like it or not. Perhaps my love for literature and poetry sprouts from the fact that they accomplish exactly what I can’t. Somehow, all of the great authors and poets- Shakespeare, Donne, the Brontes, Dostoyevsky, Huxley, and so on- write to the heart of what it means to be human, and for one reason or another, I just can’t.
As a “millennial” (the term older generations have so kindly branded me), this is a harsh reality to stomach. I’ve been told all my life that I can be the next Hemingway, when in reality, it’s just not true.
No one ever told me that I wasn’t great.
So, when a friend tells me he wants to send me a script he wrote, I willingly say yes and send him mine as well. I, after all, am the future Hemingway of my generation, so I may as well share my brilliance with him and others around me.
Except when I read his words, I begin to see the emptiness in my own. His story has meaning and depth, touching on what it truly means to live a full and satisfying life. In contrast, mine tells the epic tale of a boy and a girl falling in love through a time traveling telephone.
I feel like Orual, reading my words aloud and realizing that, in the end, they are all utterly absurd. I was never the perfect person I thought I was, nor will I ever be. It’s a melancholy thought, but I wish someone would have told me before I had a well established opinion of myself. Perhaps my life would be different if I had known from the beginning that I was not great. I would be able to stomach the pain of feeling mediocre, because I would already know that I am. The higher the horse, the harsher the fall, as they say.
From an average human being wishing she was great,