The best compliment I have received was given to me through the voice of a boy I loved, but it was not comprised of his own words. I proofed a essay for him in college, although I don’t remember what it was about now. I made a lot of changes, I am sure, since I have always been a harsh editor. His professor commented that he had “a great understanding of commas,” and I was flattered for him, for myself. I pride myself in my understanding of sentence structure, and, of course, proper punctuation. I think about the use of prepositions far more than is probably appropriate. I value style over meaning (within reason) while reading. I get off on alliteration and internal rhyme and could be quoted in my admiration of the lyricism of prose. I have written “whom” out of my language, and I make up variant words as I need them. I know I am a bit pretentious, and I know I am a writer.
The best compliment I have received was when a boy I loved told me, after we broke up, that he knew I would write a book one day. We were high and he said he’d never admit it to me normally (to keep my head from getting too big). This is probably central to the “why” in the analysis of our breakup, but it’s unimportant here. I don’t know what he saw in me that made him think that and say it, which might mean he knew me better than I maybe knew myself, at the time. When I think about it now, I know I am a writer because when I read a story I think is great, it doesn’t take me to faraway places – it takes me to a seat in front of my computer, and it forces me to write down any words I know in an attempt to organise uncountable thoughts. For me, reading is not an escape – it’s an enclosure that forces me to look at my own life’s problems and pleasures, and I don’t enjoy it – not really. Not all of the time.
The best compliment I have received was when a boy I loved told me I was rare – not as measure of uniqueness, but as the recognition of a deficit. I don’t know if I am a great writer, or even if I have the potential to be a good one, but I know that writing is something I have to do to romanticize the past, deal with the present, and create the future. I also know that the fictionalization of my affairs results in an overlooking of the non-fictionalized reality I am a part of, sometimes. When I am trying to talk myself out of doing something, I tell myself that there are thousands of people who could string together the same series of actions to produce results equivalent (if not superior, objectively) to those I could produce. I convince myself that my own personal movement in a direction toward something will result in mediocrity, and that my passion is not one that will be shared or even understood. I don’t take a lot of chances – not as an individual – not chances that could potentially and completely change my life, or evoke peer-expressed judgment, anyways.
But I do know that all people have doubts, and that my fear of failure as an extension of obscurity is likely shared by many, even those called “successful” in their field, and to refrain from producing anything felt passionately about and to go through lifemotions is to live a life wasted. There are many who can and do and will outdo my verbs and nouns and choices, and many who won’t try to because of the same uncertainty I have about everything I do that does not produce immediate, qualifiable results. So maybe through my actions I will inspire others to act, and maybe their outcomes will be better, and maybe (quite possibly) that’s a good thing – that’s progress. That is how we get out of a deficit.