Thursday, September 2, 2010

One person... three tragedies (and no, I'm not talking about me)

Why do people do things like this to themselves?

My flat mate and I were having a loooong and wide-ranging discussion about emotions and guys and everything in between yesterday. You might think that I'm stretching the word long a bit, so I will have to explain that we can sit down and talk for hours... and not about fluff.

So during yesterday's four hour discussion, she mentioned that she knew she wasn't a practical person, and that she felt she was supposed to be creative, but just wasn't. For the purpose of showing rather than telling, I will now paraphrase that segment of conversation. I'm sure that you're dying to know about the rest of it, but as  said, a lot of words flowed... And... A lot of words were pretty out there. Any way, back to the story. (I think you might now understand why  never use a narrator.)

"You are creative," I introduced gently, "I actually think you'd make a good writer."
"No... I don't think I will... I'm not as good with words as you are." It took a lot of restraint for my mouth not to hang open. Sure I'm good with words, but to lower her belief in herself due to my skill?
"Honey, I've had years of practice. I've been writing since I could spell out words." Truth, if somewhat exaggerated. I see myself as seriously having started at the age of twelve. But I was trying to get the point across. "You have a way with words."
"No I don't," she insisted. "I tried it once and it was rubbish." She ducked under her office table and took out a box that had been shoved right against the far corner. She opened it and dug right to the bottom. She took out some pages and handed them to me. "Don't you think?"

On the pages were three poems. When I read them, no amount of self restrained could have kept my jaw from dropping.
"No I think this is good. Very good."

Brilliant even. Her words carried every ounce of feeling she had while she had written them. How many people have you met that can do that? Translating feelings to writing is one of the most difficult aspects of writing. She had it down.

And I'm not kidding. I was partially raised by a woman that writes poetry and books for a living. I like to think that I know what I'm talking about when I say a poem is damn good.

So that's the first tragedy. Marg just can't see how good she is.

The second is that I told her how good she is... and she refused to believe me. I even went on to show her one of my more recent poems (due to the fact that she said she's not as good as me) to show that her work wasn't far from mine. That she just needs practice. She didn't see it.

The third is that she showed me those poems because she trusts me (good taste. not tragic), but she'll never let the world see her talent, because she doesn't believe that she's good at it.

It really saddens me to think how many good writers out there are lost to us just because they refuse to believe they are good. But what can I do to help my friend find her writing voice?


  1. And then there are those who are the exact opposite. Who think they're the best thing since sliced bread.


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