I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not a very good writer. The book I wrote in 2001 is garnering just as much attention as it did fifteen years ago – which is next to none – and the few sales it has earned have not produced reviews. This leads me to believe that it’s not only not good, but it’s downright crappy. Like, seriously, not even good enough to warrant a critical lashing. But that’s okay. You know why? Because I learned so much from writing that book.
I learned that I’m not a half bad illustrator (okay, I’m exactly a half bad illustrator – but that means I’m also halfway good), and I learned that writing a story, even one the rest of the world would ignore, was a great way to get an important message to my young son who otherwise disregarded my attempts to enlighten him with life lessons. I’m also learning how to craft a better story. The lack of interest in my first book has encouraged me to learn, so instead of spending time on TV watching stories other people tell, I’m devouring anything I can find to learn how to write stories other people want to hear.
Writing is also lubricating my executive functions. A lot of workplaces are streamlining processes to make employee churn cheaper and easier to manage. That means less thinking and more operating on autopilot during the day. That’s a lot of opportunity for the brain to turn to mush. Writing is forcing me to think up creative situations, articulate concise descriptions and mentally escape from the grind by imagining a world better than my own. In short, writing is massaging my atrophied brain.
I’ve started another book; hopefully I can do better this time. But even if the reception is exactly the same, it will have served its purpose. It won’t be about money or critical acclaim, it will be about exercise. Exercise for a brain that might otherwise go dull and limp in a lifeless corporate world.