Am I good enough?

First off, the answer is yes.

Yeh, you are. You are good enough for that which you are brave enough to try. If the idea is in your head, if the urge to do it, attempt it, become it, is there – then you are good enough.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that if I am not immediately able to do something, then I must be shit at it, ergo, I must give up. If, as a child, adults reeled off that old mantra to me “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” I just wanted to tell them to fuck off, even when I was about four.

I’ve half-heartedly said the same words to one of my sons; I’ve noticed he has the same problem as me, stopping his play or his drawing if things get too tricky. It feels false, and as an invigorating phrase, it simply doesn’t work. As to what does – well, I’ll tell you when he’s a grown up. I’m well aware much of it is about setting an example in my own life, that much (if not all) of what children learn is simply modelled to them by their parents or caregivers.

Well, now I’m writing a book, and I’m just at the part where I want to give up because it’s too difficult. I offered a sliver of it up for criticism at my poetry class last night and – wow! I’m kind of glad I did because it taught me, in one brutal, quick, excruciating instant, how far I have to go. In writing (that’s a given, it’s a first draft) but more importantly, in how I accept criticism.

I am not good at accepting criticism. It was pretty comical last night when I was trying to accept all my criticism. First, I was quite perky and able to catch people’s eyes. Then, I grabbed my pen and dutifully started to scrawl down some snatched phrases (my brain was already packing up to go, literally shouting at my body: come on! Let’s get the hell out of here – like, yesterday!). I looked at the verse I submitted later; there were words littered all over it like ‘Would you really add a swirl of pink to red?’ or ‘There’s problems with ‘we’ who are ‘we’ or ‘Is there supposed to be no voice in this piece?’ (That was my personal favourite. No, there is not supposed to be no voice in this piece. Why would I write a character with no voice?). The third phase was reassuringly predictable, if you knew me: I burst out into hysterical tears.

But then – evidence of my evolution as a human being – instead of sprinting out of the room, I stayed there, stifling sobs, sniveling, wiping snot away with my arm, making everybody feel very uncomfortable indeed. I told them all to carry on with another poem, someone else’s obviously, then sat there like a broken glass of water, shards strewn everywhere.

Now, after wrestling with a particularly vile inner critic for so many years, why on earth would I have put myself into this situation? I’m not sure, nope, no idea.

Criticism is great, constructive criticism is a necessity, I know that. This next day, I have emerged unscathed. I think I have. I feel really wobbly. But I still think that what I am creating is good. It is good enough, because the idea is there, I have the urge to do it, I am attempting it. I am becoming a person who follows their creative urge, right to the very end. I’m following its lead into the dark, allowing myself to unfurl the fear of juxtaposing the wild, untamed imagination with reality and form.

On paper. Yes, in a book.

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4 thoughts on “Am I good enough?”

  1. So love your post. No one absorbs criticism easily.
    You stood up, regardless, the next day, knowing you have something to offer.
    Really inspirational
    Thank you Jax

  2. Keep on going. This is your thing.
    Remember the moon and the stars shine at a different time to the sun but they both have their moment.
    I am with you all the way x

  3. Thanks you two! I really appreciate the comments. It’s very hard to know whether what you are writing is possibly better kept to yourself or not! I’ll keep going. There was one girl in the class who loved it and used the term ‘the crazies’ get it, and as it’s set in a mental hospital, well I guess that’s good!

  4. @Kirsten – I like your image of the moon and the sun shining at different times.
    @Jacqueline – Gloria is right: criticism is always difficult to hear; thankfully, we’re at a stage where we can take something useful from it instead of it simply cutting to the heart of my very being – one’s very being!

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