Since about September last year I have been learning to play the guitar. I don’t think I’m doing very well but then I never do. But it has struck me how much like writing learning the guitar is.
Firstly, progress is always painfully slow. I sincerely wish I could pick up the guitar one day and play like Hendrix the next but that’s never going to happen. It’s endless hours of practise that improves one’s playing and nothing else. I have heard rumours that if you go down to the crossroads and sell your soul to a tall dark gentleman with horns and a tail, then your ability can drastically improve very quickly but that’s too high a price to pay in my book. But there are so many other things to do in life and so many times when the last thing you feel like doing is writing or practising the guitar.
And when you’re learning anything new is can be so disheartening. As someone who suffers with a lot of self doubt, I never think I’m doing enough or doing it properly. I feel guilty if I don’t practise the same as if I don’t write. At least I have a guitar teacher to give me a small sense of perspective. He’s always a lot more enthusiastic about my playing than I am. But with writing, it’s much harder to get perspective and I’m sure all writers are familiar with the feeling that every thing they write is probably garbage and how they feel they’re probably wasting their time doing this.
However, when a break through does occur and something goes well, the feeling of achievement is monumental. Music, writing and creativity in general is, despite the difficulties and setbacks, such a joy. With the guitar, my aim is to be good enough to be in a band. With the writing, I want to be a successful published author. What I really want is some sort of public vindication. Yes, a best selling novel or a grammy awarded album would be great but what I really want is for people to like what I do. I want my creativity to be appreciated. Surely that’s not too much to ask?
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