philosophy, writing

Destiny … Or Not

Do you believe in destiny?

Not necessary “twoo, twoo wuv” destiny, but fate, the idea that your path is already laid for you, all you can do is walk it.

Depressingly, I sometimes wonder if I’m destined to be the “less-than” all my life. Or maybe rather, the “almost-good.” Almost a good skater, but never quite made it to good. Almost a good singer, but not really there. DEFINITELY quite a bit less than a good pianist (but hey, all those years of piano lessons at least taught me how to read music, so there is that. Even if I do struggle with the bass clef still). Almost a good actress, but not wholly convincing.

When I start to add up all the things I’m not quite good at, it gets really depressing. In fact, I don’t recommend doing it. At all. Because then, as I said, I start to think “Gee, maybe that’s just my destiny, to always be halfway there, but never quite fully successful at anything.” And THAT leads to –


And then I panic. Because what if this one thing I love so well is just like everything else, something that I do okay at, but will never be able to excel at?

And then I panic some more.

And then I read all these quotes that are supposed to be inspirational, about how if you love something you’ll succeed at it, and that everyone is a genius if they just find what they’re suited for, or that JUST WORK HARD and you’ll eventually gain your heart’s desire! And all that sort of thing, and then I get all cynical and sarcastic, because honestly, when has life ever worked that way? Some people are going to work their whole lives at something they love, and they will never be very good at it, and that’s just life, and what if I’m one of those people? Destined to be mediocre at everything? There’s no reason why I SHOULDN’T be the other type, the type who can achieve dreams and glory through hard work and perseverance.

And then I finally turn off my brain and just sit down and WRITE, because doggone it, even if I’m not ever going to write anything worth anyone else reading, I love this, and I’m going to keep pouring my heart into it, and keep trying, and I will be writing until the day I die, even if it’s all crap, even if it’s destined to be useless.

So there, fate.

What do you do to turn off those negative voices that tell you your writing is no good?

7 thoughts on “Destiny … Or Not”

  1. I always have problems here posting but I'll give this a go. There is a Narnia story on involving a totally kick ass thoroughly modern girl with tragic abusive past who falls into Narnia, has hot sex with Edmund, and dies tragically. The author insists she's not a cliche (I won't use THOSE words) because she's you know, a Ninja assassin and she dies. This story involves reference to, no lie, the elastic on her panties, which Edmund fingers right before the fade to black. This person is HUGELY popular. Her aborted sequel has 200+ reviews for a single 500 word chapter. And this person claims that she also had book contracts, several of them, and awesome research in the UK and etc. etc.. Really. And you look at the popularity of 50 Shades of Gray and so many other fan fic authors who made good and some of them are very good and some of the are not. And then you read Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code wherein he writes, "And then he told them about the Grail" and you receive acres of horribly written exposition.Moral — if publishing is your touchstone of worth, it's skewed because objectively skill and mastery of craft have nothing to do with publishing success. I have no idea what the magic formula is — I know one person who recently made the jump and it was a lot of hard work in writers' workshops, seminars, writers' groups, and looking for agents and finally finding one. She also tailored her first story to something likely to attract — a young adult historical supernatural story. Please do not get discouraged because a handful of professionals are not recognizing your love and gift. I don't know what they look for, except the next Harry Potter. Also there's this whole thing about the "good enough" mother. I've had to learn that myself as I become reconciled to the fact that not everything will be perfect. I will never be able to make an Easter ham; my son will not vegetables; the women in the PTA intimidate me. When I boogie board at the beach, I'll get maybe one wave in 10 — but that one makes it worthwhile. It's not quite what you are saying, but it's a recognition that doing what you love, even if you don't excel at it (recognizing that the measures of excellence are skewed, wrong, bizarre) is OK too. Most of all, HUGS.

  2. I hear you. It's so hard not to boomerang between desperation and naive certainty of success. Here's where I try to stay–I have a writing gift–it may not be a big/great one, but it's what I've been given. My goal is to use what I've got, improve it the best way that I can, and leave the rest–success, etc. to God.

  3. OH, HONEY, WE ARE KINDRED SPIRITS!I KNOW, I know EXACTLY THIS, this is so exactly what I feel all the TIME!And I always think, when you read about successful people, you hear about their childhoods and there's something like "This always was their dream, they showed talent and passion from the time they were very small," and the idea is, of course, somebody with talent and passion from the time they're very small is DESTINED to be great, but all I can think of is there's probably millions of more people who ALSO showed talent and passion in their youth who never got anywhere. Think of all the kids who dreamed of being sports stars, you know? Think of all the kids who dreamed of being PRINCESSES. Seriously.But then, what can we do but be the best US we can be? Without comparing ourselves to other people's standards. Just to know we're really doing our best. Then again, I see myself failing in THAT respect, too, much of the time. But I'm also being treated for depression, so I'm probably not the best example of healthy, objective thinking.So at least… you are not alone in feeling like this!

  4. Thank you, Ruth. I hear shades of my mother in this (in the very best way!), reminding me after my first "C" on an essay in college that it was only one person's opinion, and that as long as I had done my best, it didn't matter if the prof thought figure skating was a stupid subject for the essay.I confess – I do want to be published. If I'm honest, I WANT to be the person who writes the next Harry Potter. Although when I'm at my most sensible I realize that what I would really love would be to be the next Lloyd Alexander or Diana Wynne Jones – not so massively popular, but with a deeply passionate and intelligent fan base. Most of the time I can remind myself that publishing is a fickle, fickle business, and that my goal SHOULD be writing the best that I can, for my own sake, not writing for publication, but then that seductive lure of PUBLISHED AUTHOR creeps back in.Mostly, I worry that because I am a fairly lazy, easy-going, roll-with-the-punches type of person, that I lack the needed drive to succeed at anything, and that troubles me more, because then it IS my fault, nothing I can blame on anyone else. I joked recently that I'm am ambitious spirit in a lazy person's body, and the two parts of me are constantly battling with each other – wish I could just be one or the other.

  5. Yes. Thank you. Sometimes it's easy to forget that this writing ability that I have IS a gift from God, and that it's not contingent on my skills or lack thereof. That never excuses me from doing my utmost with it, but it DOES leave me no room for fretting about the results!

  6. I know! And it's not just about dreaming, but sometimes even those who work really, really hard at pursuing their dreams (ok, maybe not princesses, but sports stars or music stars or actors) don't end up accomplishing them. WHAT ABOUT THEM?And yes, it is hard enough to try to live up to our own measuring stick, be the best Louise, and the best Amy, we can be, without trying to live up to some outside standard, too. And certainly writing helps me be closer to that best version of myself I want to be , and shouldn't that be enough?It should be. But I'm human enough, and honest enough, to admit that often it isn't.(And now to be the best mom I can be, I need to stop typing this and go get my kid some grapes. "I'm still hungry," she just told me piteously after polishing off a banana. Bottomless pit, this one. I tremble for her teenage years.)

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