A longtime friend recently praised one of my blogs. I was touched by her feedback, but admitted that I often feel like an imposter. I told her that it’s hard for me to evaluate my work anymore. There are some things I like, but there are some things I hate. I’m like an actor that can watch their own work.
When she seemed surprised, I told her a story an old college professor had told our class years ago. The class was a bit full of itself for doing well on a recent assignment. The professor noted the smugness in the room and asked: “Does an ER doctor brag after saving a patient?
Everyone in the class looked down at their open books like they were going to magically give us the answer. The professor continued by explaining that the doctor would “treat life as a precious gift. A doctor has to work at his job each day, just like a writer has to work at his or her craft.”
Yes, I work at my craft, but unlike a doctor, my patient, or in my case, my work, doesn’t walk out of the hospital with a definitive answer. I know from past practice that I may choose a specific word for a reason, while another writer may choose different one and be perfectly in the right.
I may opt to include an Oxord Comma, someone else may choose to not include it. I choose to travel North to get to the Shangri-La of the writing world, someone else chooses to travel South. We both get there.
Finally, I may bat 1,000 with my writing today. Tomorrow, I may confuse “bear” with “bare” or “affect” with “effect” or, God forbid, I may mistype “your” when I mean “you’re.” English is a tricky language. There’s really only one way to get better. You have to keep at it day after day. As the old Chinese fortune cookie saying goes: Practice makes perfect.
Once again writing proves that when you think you know everything there is, that’s the day it will make you look like a fool.