Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I blog because, oh, how I hate it.

Four posts in, and this has already been a great learning experience for me.  The extent to which I hate everything I’ve written so far (typos, structure problems, general up-my-own-assedness) has been instructive with respect to the practical meaning of “fail better.”    

When I was maybe 9 or 10, I decided to go into business for myself making and selling greeting cards door-to-door.  I had seen some “kid artwork” cards that the children’s hospital gave to donors and knew that even though I wasn’t a great artist, I could make a much better product than those sick kids.*  I knew from Girl Scout Cookie-time that I could sell.  I hid out in my room, stealing office supplies from my parents to make my 200-card inventory.  After weeks of careful drawing, folding, and packaging my cards up in pretty ribbons, I was ready to go sell.  That's when I realized to my horror that my cards were ugly, that no one wanted them, and that I was stupid for thinking otherwise for even a minute.**  I saved the cards until I went to law school, and then finally threw them out.  I never even showed my mom. 

So, my current working definition of failing better means that I have to write like hell, and keep hitting publish, if for nothing else than to shove the other posts down the page. 

I am now going to indulge myself by posting a piece of writing that I do love, just for the sheer pleasure of it.  And also because I keep telling myself that it’s prophetic, that I’m not going to feel this sick and terrified—about writing, about life—forever:

     "The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know--if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away."
     "I know exactly what you mean," said Edmund.
     "Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -  and there it was, lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been.  And there I was as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water.  It smarted like anything but only for a moment.  After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm.  And then I saw why.  I'd turned into a boy again." 
*Yes, I was that horrible. Even then I realized that I was basically the girl-version of Eustace Scrubb. 

**You know what the worst part is? The cards were---really, truly, honestly--that ugly. Who wants greeting cards made out of graph paper? So while grown-up me wishes I'd tried to sell them or tried again, I'm still a little flabbergasted that I once thought I would make my fortune selling greeting cards made out of graph paper. 


  1. > The extent to which I hate everything I’ve written so far (typos, structure problems, general up-my-own-assedness) has been instructive

    In 2011 I wrote a novel.

    I'm now trying to revise it.

    It's the worst piece of writing I've ever come across.

  2. But you did it! I have yet to finish one. 2012 is my year. It is my MAJOR DEFINITE PURPOSE. That's why I need eyeballs here - to be a better writer.

  3. This is what happens when a recently-departed lawyer starts blogging: she insults those of us who *loved* what she'd written so far … because, well, because we love what she thinks is shit.
    (Off to cry myself to sleep.)