Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”- Winston Churchill.

I have been told I am a pretty good writer. In school, I was often commended for my ability, and several Professors encouraged me to go on to graduate school because of it. I would even go so far as to say that my ability to write, making an effort at proofreading, and use of proper APA citation rules is what garnered me a consistent 4.0 G.P.A. throughout my time at Colorado Tech.

Mastery of content was always important, but the writing skill, grammar, punctuation, spelling, proofreading, APA, these things could take a grade down by 9 to 15 points on average, an A might be at best, an A- or at worst, a C+. To me, it was just refusing to cut corners. I treated my education like I would treat my income-earning job, no matter what it might be. Some assumed my skill at writing was due to a talent. It wasn’t.

It was never a talent. I started writing journals by hand in high school. I continued the practice after high school until I acquired some 30 plus journals and realized if I kept writing them at the rate I was going, I was going to be single-handedly responsible for killing an entire forest by the time I was done. I was definitely going to need a lot more bookshelf space.

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That’s two shelves worth of dust collecting and one heck of a heavy box on moving days. Save the trees!

What does one do with old journals when one is not a famous person anyway? Don’t answer that, I have seen them in local museums if they happen to contain accounts of historic events. In case anybody else needs to know what to do with old hand written journals and diaries. In any case, I kept these journals and started writing online as well and that is pretty much where I picked up most of the skill.

Keeping up with other bloggers who all had a whole lot more skill than I had at the time. Patience, perseverance, and daily practice, literally for years before I ever started going to school. This is what I told classmates who felt discouraged because they were getting docked points on assignments for poor or non-existent APA, poor grammar, spelling errors. We had weekly discussion board assignments so we saw each others work.

Sometimes fellow classmates seemed like they were judging themselves by comparing their work with mine. There were times when they would say things like “I will never be a good writer, I don’t have your talent“. And then I would say “Talent? It only seems like talent. This is two plus decades worth of daily practice. This is the result of hard work and a ridiculous amount of practice.” And then I would offer them advice if wanted.

I had a lot of fun learning to write over the years, and it was totally a process. I still had some bad habits even when I started going to school. I was the queen of the run-on sentence and a violent abuser of ellipsis points… Sometimes, a class requirement included conciseness and brevity and I’d lose points on the first few assignments until the Professor caught up on grading and explained the class involved business writing.

And now I still routinely abuse semi-colons; have you noticed that yet? In any case writing is just like art. It requires dedication and persistence in practice. And speaking of art; some things I also enjoyed doing but never practiced with the consistency and dedication I put into regular writing: poetry, drawing, and painting. Truth be told, I am a regular butcher of the arts of poetry, drawing, and painting.

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Exhibit A: late 1990’s era drawing using gel pens. Please ignore the coffee stain in the corner.

My poetry is a crime against all things Shakespeare, Dickinson, and Poe. My paintings and drawings are atrocities of such horror that were an art critic to come across them, he or she would likely murder me slowly with my own pencils. But this has never stopped me from the occasional malicious intent on paper or canvas.

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Exhibit B: Early 2000’s Pencil and gel pen.

Nor has it caused me enough shame to refrain from gleefully inflicting it upon the unsuspecting eye of friends, family, or random strangers on the internet.

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Exhibit C: Acrylic painting version of exhibit A, completed for a family member in 2014

I thoroughly love to fail, and fail, and fail again with much enthusiasm. I only wish I had more time and a better work space. Someday I would like to have a room specifically dedicated for the purposes of working with ink, pencil, and paint where cat paws can be kept at bay. Have you ever tried to get gesso off the hindquarters of a black cat? Or keep them out of the paintbrush water? Or away from chewing on your favorite paint brush?

Come to think of it, that is probably why I chose to stick with writing.