I’m not a great a writer. A grading of average or slightly there above by an outside and impartial judge would leave me feeling warm and fuzzy enough. And great writer I shall never be, with work and life there just isn’t time to dedicate to the craft that would put me on track – in this lifetime – to raise my prose to such a level, if it was even genetically possible.
This much is certain, I am getting better.
The means by which one can see this improvement could potentially push a writer to the liquor store. Fortunately I don’t have the funds to finance any sort of introspectively driven substance abuse therapy. Praise be to poverty.
Reading. This is my tool for measuring progress. Reading my own writing that is, and for whatever reason I don’t do it that often. An argument could be made that I don’t want to indulge in self congratulatory rituals, but really I’m lazy and strapped for time. If I sit down to read something and manage to not fall asleep, I’d rather read something that isn’t garbage, which is a polite way of saying I’ll read anything so long as the author penned at the bottom of the page isn’t Nikolai Paterak.
I broke that rule today, the thirteenth day of February, the eve of valentines day. I poured myself what passes for a cold glass of tap water in my building, bit deep and hard into a ripe Royal Gala, and dove head first into some of my older writing. And older does not mean it was written on a scroll.
It. Was. Terrible.
I didn’t even finish reading the damn thing before I was so disgusted with myself that I had to write something that I hoped would not also suffer the same fate of being total shit. This is that attempt.
Flustered best describes my state in this moment. A break is in order. I’m going to go to the climbing gym, and then I’ll wrap this up. See you in a few hours.
So life happened and it is now actual Valentine’s Day, no longer the eve of. What was meant to be a few hours turned into exactly twenty four. I could have lied, but I didn’t. Remember this moment. On the positive side I read what I wrote above the ellipses and it isn’t a festering pile of trash. On the really positive side I found a bottle of red wine. You can imagine where this has taken me. Yes, I am drinking it alone on the most romantic day of the year. However, the wine is red like my lonely beating heart which must subtract a few pathetic points. And besides what could be more romantic than writing the internet a self analyzing piece of hate mail directed at myself. Don’t answer that.
Back on track. Everything I write is shit. I haven’t gone back and further reread the piece that inspired this essay because I would just get flustered again and I might do something involving up ending this wine bottle over an empty mouth attached to yours truly. Suffice to say, I can remember the taste I had after the ill fated reading yesterday and it did not taste like the cheap red beside me.
As sadistic as it may sound, I would be worried and probably even give up the quill if I didn’t experience this level of loathing at every sampling of my past work.
This reaction – see disgust and physical revulsion – means that present writer Nik has improved enough over past writer Nik to know that past writer Nik was ( or is, this whole alternate self time paradox is very confusing when working with tenses) a complete and utter hack. Meaning present writer Nik is that much further from the aforementioned status, and future writer Nik, potentially, could feel the same about present Nik – see disgust and physical revulsion. And all this self loathing boils down to continued improvement.
Getting better means knowing what you did isn’t very good. It’s a hard pill to swallow. The alternative being looking back, reading my work and being content. This could mean happiness and perhaps ignorance, but this goes hand in hand with my stagnation as a writer.
Of course there is another option. There could come a time when I go back and read something I’ve written and am not in some way disappointed, disgusted, utterly ashamed or embarrassed. This is the day I am a great writer.
But from what I gather from various published writer’s accounts, they hate everything they write too. So maybe I’m on track.