When “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough

Welcome to 2021, where every day is the same.

As part of my government prescribed exercise, I take a walk every week day. I walk the same route. Up the hill, past the church, down through the housing estate and back home. Some days it rains, some days it doesn’t. Sometimes I see the same few people out running, sometimes I don’t.

There’s a reason for treading the same route every day, it takes the thought out of it. I can put music on, zone out and let my mind wander. This route has provided me with numerous ideas for new stories, helped me iron out the kinks in ongoing stories and calmed me from the stress of the pandemic, work etc.

It’s also given me a bit of a realisation in recent days. For context, I’ve come close with a couple of places to getting Lionhearts published, both with indie presses and agents. It’s generated interest but nobody has taken the plunge as yet. In turns the chase for publication can be thrilling, disheartening, maddening and strangely hopeful. The feedback I’ve had on both Nobody Wins and Lionhearts leads me to believe that I’m doing something right, just perhaps not quite right enough.

This is what I’ve been ruminating on. I want to be a writer more than I’ve wanted to achieve anything in my life. At school, I did alright. At college, the same. At university, I found my level and managed to get an OK grade with minimum fuss.

I was lucky. I could turn up and get a B. That’s not being arrogant, I’m not even sure it’s something to be arrogant about. But the point is, I got middling grades with no work or effort. The worst of it was, I was never driven to work any harder. I never cared enough to put the extra work in. I was happy to take my pass and spend studying time on other things. Until now, I’ve never really applied myself, as shameful as that is to admit.

Writing is different. Writing is hard. There’s no ability to master it or to know it all. It’s a constant education. Reading new authors and voices, checking out writing resources like podcasts and YouTube videos, reading books on the craft and taking courses.

Writing has lit that fire under me. Good enough is no longer good enough. No level of skill or ability will ever be enough for me. There will always be something new to learn, to try, or to tell. There will always be more story ideas, some with growing complexity beyond my current skill level. To do those stories justice, I need to level up. Plotting, prose, dialogue, characterisation… There’s always something to work on. There’s always a goal to hit, a place that I want to make it to.

For the first time, I don’t feel like I’ll ever be “good enough” but as long as I’m always improving and always moving forward, that’s something I’m learning to be OK with.