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Learning to Embrace My Limits

Rainbow Spirit [1]1. Habit

I sing ALL the time. In the car, in the shower, in the bedroom while I’m ironing. My poor musically inclined boyfriend is very nice about it — maybe because I’m ironing his shirts — but the truth is, I’m not very good. I can hear the pitches and modulations in a melody, but I can’t always make them with my own voice. Still, I have fun, and that’s good enough for me.

2. Hobby

I love to dance. I went from ballet as a girl, to drill team in high school, to contemporary in college. I would say that I am an above average dancer, but not a great one. Still, I always made it into the “upper echelon” of my dance groups because I worked really, really hard. I knew I wasn’t the best, so I tried to make up for my deficit in talent with an abundance of passion and effort.

3. Hope

I am a writer. Some level of innate talent was identified at a young age, and I’ve spent almost two decades trying to nurture that. At first, my goal was literary acclaim. Glowing reviews, tons of awards, the Pulitzer, maybe even a Nobel. Then I just wanted to be a bestseller. (“Just.” Ha.) Pleasing readers is more important than pleasing other writers, I told myself. Now… Now I just want to write as well as I can. No matter who’s reading or reviewing. No matter who isn’t.

4. Perspective

Some people might view the change in my goals as a lowering of standards. For me, it’s about understanding and accepting my limits. I mean that in 2 ways. First: Neither literary acclaim nor blockbuster sales are within my control. That’s just the reality. And that’s okay. Second, and this may also be a reality: I might not be cut out to be a professional writer. After a lot of internal struggle, I realized that’s okay too.

5. The Point

I know most people who come to Writer Unboxed are looking for advice on how to “make it.” We contributors are supposed to offer tips, insights, or encouragement. Truly, I think I’m doing all 3 when I say this:

Being able to write and being able to write professionally are two very different things.

But also:

Writing as a hobby is no less valid or worthy than writing professionally.

As a capitalist society, we are somewhat obsessed with productivity and profitability. But those things have nothing to do with joy or creativity. Is my singing “invalid”? Is my dancing “unworthy”? No. They bring me pleasure. That is justification enough. That is its own reward.

In a world where it seems like everyone is trying to cash in on Twilight copycats and 99-cent ebooks, that might be the most unboxed idea of all.

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Photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt [2]

About Kristan Hoffman [3]

Originally from Houston, TX, Kristan Hoffman [4] studied creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and later attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Now she lives with her family in Cincinnati, OH, where she writes both fiction and nonfiction with a focus on feminist, multicultural stories. Her words have appeared in the New York Times, Switchback, and the Citron Review, among others. She is currently at work on a Young Adult novel, and is represented by Tina Dubois of ICM. For more, please visit her website [5].

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