I’ve loved writing, since school. I remember eagerly looking forward to the essay-writing assignments. All the other students used to copy from ready-made essay books available in stores; not me.
In school we had to write essays from the perspective of an inanimate object. I chose a flower and wrote a love story. In sixth standard. My professor was decently surprised and commented out loud in class. When I was asked to read it out openly, I blushed to no end. I felt exposed. It was as if someone peeled a layer of my soul and bared it to the public.
Till date, writing is my go-to form of expression. And dance, of course, but writing more so. Which is why I wanted to be a journalist, and a writer later on in life, after I have had sufficient experience, stories and observations to write about.
In school, I was proud of my writing prowess. English language did not come as easily to my peers, and even when it did, it rarely appealed to many. Being introduced to reading English and speaking it at home right from childhood, I loved the language. Naturally, I assumed I was good at it.
I was not. Not as much as I would have liked to, at least.
The same continued in college. I knew where my commas were supposed to lie. That’s all. Maybe I had a slightly more extensive vocabulary than my peers, but that was it. I had no other edge other than the want to write. I still thought I was a good writer.
In 2007 and again in 2010 – two of the most influential and important years in my life, which helped shape my person, I was forced to look at myself and face my flaws. The reality was not in the least good. My confidence sunk. But, life is about picking up your pieces and moving on. So did I.
In 2011, I got a job as a sub-editor for the website of a business news channel. At first, I flourished under my first editor. He was polite and patient to teach me the ways and hows of writing professionally. When I revisited my previous works, I could not help cringe in disdain. Just when I thought I was improving again, my new editor voiced her criticisms. It was hard to hear, but she showed me the reality of my writing.
Since the time I realised my writing was not as good as I hoped it would be or wanted it to be, I spend more time reading than writing. I spend time admiring other works and being jealous.
No, don’t get me wrong. I am not jealous of the success of the writers. I am simply jealous that it was not I who produced those beautiful strings of words. I see so many beautiful writers around me that I wonder at the stupidity of my assumptions of the self. It is hard to see past the beauty of their words to mine.
I am told I set too high standards for myself; that I indulge in self-flagellation often. But, it is hard to get past this jealousy. Once it sets its claws on your heart, it never lets go. Inch my inch, you may loosen the grip, but you can never free it entirely.
I have definitely come a long way since the time I was told to “go read Wren and Martin” and brush up my English. Many have told me time and again how well I write. But it seems untrue. The satisfaction is missing – not the kind that comes from penning my thoughts, but that which is derived from the simple knowledge that what I write is good. My kind of good, whatever that may be.
I want to be special. I want my writing to be exemplary. In this life teeming with billion lives, who does not want to stand out, be valued for their sheer genius? Even this blog is a deranged effort at trying to make a mark.
All I can see, though, is futility. If you ask me, I would not even be able to tell you what makes my writing me; what is my style of writing. At this moment, it only seems be copies from the writers I have read. I guess it is time to accept that we are after all ‘average’. I, not we. It is hard.
No wonder then that jealousy seems to be the only constant.