GREAT: markedly superior in character or quality
Last night I attended a reading at our neighborhood library for Theo Pauline Nestor’s book Writing is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Own Voice (And a Guide to How You Can Too). The event was part book reading and part writer’s workshop. The event was a powerful reminder that time is not the barrier to writing that I often make it out to be.
The few exercises Nestor led were short but powerful. You could feel the hum of creative energy in the room as pens feversishly scrawled in journals. One exercise was to write a list of times you had trusted yourself and times you hadn’t. Then, in a separate exercise, she gave us four minutes to write about one of the items on our list. The writing below is the typed version of the chicken scratch I produced during those four minutes:
I could hear the proposal coming.
I’d imagined the sound of approaching commitment would be beautiful. Why did it sound ominous? It wasn’t the swelling score I’d imagined. It was a piano pounding darkly.
I had to believe that there was something better than good. Better than enough.
I didn’t want good. I didn’t want enough.
I wanted great. And I believed it existed.
I had to. Something deep inside screamed that this was a defining choice.
I had to choose between keeping something good and searching for something great.
I had to risk the bird in the hand and double down on the two in the bush.
I couldn’t stay when I wanted to go.
I couldn’t smile when I wanted to scream.
I couldn’t pretend.
Well, I could.
But I wouldn’t.
I’d finally decided that pretending didn’t suit me. I could run now or later, but I had no doubt that I would eventually run. The only question was how many years I’d squander first.
I couldn’t settle for good enough.
I was a searcher, searching for great.
I grabbed my choice with both hands.
I drove west, car stuffed to capacity with the possessions that mattered most.
My rearview mirror was useless, but that didn’t matter.
I wasn’t looking back.