Greatest Strengths = Strongest Weaknesses

I’ve been thinking a lot about ambition lately. I’ve got it by the truckload, that’s for sure. I suppose I could call them “dreams” because that’s certainly a softer, more Hollywood term for it. “Ambition” sounds a little dirty, like the difference between “passion” and “obsession”. But that’s what it’s always been for me. Something inside me makes me more driven than most people–driven enough to actually pursue my dreams for long periods of time without giving up. As many of my friends have pointed out, it’s not easy to write an entire novel, let alone two, let alone going back and doing the ruthless editing necessary to bring a novel up to publishing quality. I know I have a lot of good qualities such as dedication, motivation, determination. My writing brings out the best in me a lot of times. I’ve been told I sparkle when I talk about my writing.  When I’m at home for the summer and I get into a cranky mood,  it’s usually because I haven’t written in a long time, so the solution is pretty simple.

But as a pessimist I feel it my duty to point out that even this great passion of mine has a dark side to it. One of my great character flaws is impatience.  I didn’t realize I had a problem with this until I cam to college because until then, it had always disguised itself as efficiency. It can be useful because it gives me a sense of urgency to write and to meet my goals. That same sense of urgency sometimes drives me mad, though. You see, in my mind, I’m running WAY behind in this getting published thing. My original plan was to get my book published before I graduated high school and then plan B was to get published early on in college and if I didn’t get published before graduating college, then was life really worth living? You see, I wanted to be WAY ahead of the curve by doing something spectacular when I was young because it was more impressive. School has always been a huge barrier to my writing productivity and I often fly into a rage because I am trying to DO something with my life and I CAN’T because I have no time to write during the school year. And then, I get mad at myself for not MAKING time.

I fall into the trap of letting publishing become my primary purpose in life. Even if it lights a fire under me, that’s not where my priorities should be. Never let your gift define you. Never let your gift control you. Even if it makes you brilliant. It’s not worth it. It’s too heavy a load for a person to bear–all those self-imposed demands and expectations. I think the plainest example of this is in politicians. Remember the sorts of horrible things you’ve seen politicians do in the name of their dream for the world. It can happen in any profession and far too often we applaud those in the arts who give into it. I wish I could say this is something I struggle with everyday, but normally I just ignore it because it’s more convenient to let my dreams fuel me. It’s good for me to remind myself that my writing is not the measure of my self-worth.

Two songs and one book come to mind while I’m writing this. The songs are both by Steven Curtis Chapman: “Magnificent Obsession” and “Definition of Me”. I’d write out some of the lyrics, but this is already a really long post. The book is My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, which I read last semester for a class. It’s about a really young Jewish boy who wants to be an artist and essentially loses his family and his heritage for his art. I loved the book even though I hated most of the choices Asher made. It reminded me that I didn’t want to be him.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Muse Bait « To Reach the Unreachable Star

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