Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yoda was wrong. It's OK to be humble.

Yoda said, "Do, or do not. There is no try."

Yoda must have been born innately able to juggle, perform brain surgery, and fly an airplane. The 'just do it' mindset of the statement does not allow for humility, and while that gung ho spirit works for jedi and marines, the rest of us have shades of meaning needed to describe our level of aptitude.

This stems from some discussion on Twitter about describing one's self as an "aspiring" writer, versus just claiming to be a writer.

The tide seems to favor eliminating the word aspiring, on the basis that if you write, you're a writer. There is an excellently written post on the subject here.

While I find the concept motivating, I don't happen to agree. As wise people once said, if the cat has kittens in the oven, that don't make 'em biscuits.

Describing yourself as an aspiring writer displays a sense of humility; to whit, it's a way of saying that while you feel compelled to string words together into pleasing constructions, you don't feel you've mastered the knack quite yet. It's a way of admitting to a need for polish, practice, and training, and prevents folk from asking to inflict your untried works on themselves just yet, or at least when they do, cushions the blow of the inevitable constructive criticism.

On the other hand, to just come out and say, "I'm a writer" poses many questions on the opposite side of the verbal fence. Using the word "writer" denotes a profession, and if your words aren't paying your bills, the person you're talking to has a certain acceptable amount of incredulity towards your claims.

While I might fulfill your definition of writer, that doesn't mean I meet my own success criteria. If everything I've written up to now isn't good to me, but I still feel driven to write, 'aspiring' is an apt description, and correcting me in my claim is incorrect.

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