I’ve been told I’m afraid of success, but I’m not certain how true that is. My mother considered herself an overachiever, and I’d say I follow in her footsteps. Or I did.
All through school, I worked my tail off to make A’s. I made a B one quarter in PE in 7th or 8th grade, and it still irks me that it was due to a new writing requirement. The day they told the classes about this, I–and a huge number of other band geeks–had to miss class for concert practice. Next day, we suddenly had to write an essay on a subject I didn’t know that well (they’d told the classes they could bring dictionaries). I made a C on the paper, dropping my A to a B–for something that had nothing to do with PHYSICAL EDUCATION.
During high school, I went to a private school where it was easy to be a big fish in a small pond. I had no social life. The school was on the other side of town and, due to my mother’s teaching schedule, we often didn’t get home until quite late (for most students). That’s not to say the work came easy–especially to a procrastinator–but I wouldn’t let myself fall below my own expectations.
That changed senior year. The private school…imploded…and I went back to public school. Unbeknownst to me, I was also dealing with a health issue. Long story short, I stopped caring (as much as an overachiever can stop caring). I even made a D on my precalc final. I was told if I’d made 1 less B, I might have been in the running for valedictorian. What did I know? My credits hadn’t transferred properly from the private school (my weighted GPA was only a smidgen above my regular one since they didn’t differentiate honors courses), so I didn’t think I’d had a chance anyway. It just didn’t seem to matter anymore.
That was the year I discovered all that hard work only got me into college. Well, it did provide a great scholarship, too. Beyond that, I learned that I’d erred on the side of academics. Balance is not taught in schools.
I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from the disillusionment. Here I am, still working on a story I technically began in 2004. It’s been rewritten and smoothed beyond an inch of its life – and I still am not happy with the results. It doesn’t look or sound like a professional work. My husband and I started over (again) rereading it to get it ready for a copy edit. We got–I got–to Chapter 10 before I began banging my head against a wall again. He’s working on Chapter 11.
I love the story – I hate the words. It’s sparse. It’s choppy. The words read too fast. There’s no meat on the bones. And he says its just my writing voice. I say it’s called amateur writing. And I don’t know how to fix it.
I’ve been angry about this story, about the editing, since I came home from the conference and realized I was indeed rewriting the entire thing. I’m losing steam. I’m losing heart. And I’m definitely losing time while I try to sort this all out. My perfectionist nature doesn’t want to put out a product that can be ridiculed.
I need someone to come alongside and lift my wings. To tell me–with true wisdom gained from experience, preferably–here’s how you get from where you are to where you want to be.