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My Last Letter To Thom

Dear Thom,

Can you believe it? It has been over five years since we started–five years of telling and retelling, imagining and reimagining–and in a little over a month’s time, your story will finally be released to the world. It took us awhile, huh? Time sure flies. You’re even an adult now, and boy do we need to catch up!

So, how’s life in Daysprings? Is Daysprings still the warm and welcoming village I last remembered it to be? How’s Haratio and the girls? Tiger is all grown-up now–is she more like Seanna or Catry? How are the Eklaysians? Oh, and do you still write to Mika? Did you manage to find out who his uncle is? Even though we worked on the book last year, we never really talked about these things. I didn’t even ask about your love life! Yes, I should know. And if you don’t intend to tell me, I’ll just ask her instead. But, all these surface questions aside, how are you…really?

I’m fine–if you’re curious about me. Life in my world isn’t as magical or as adventurous as yours. I have a pretty interesting day job, which can get rather busy at times. As it eats most of my creativity, I’ve not spoken to Robb in months–he seems to be OK with that. I do plan to write the second installment of his story this year though–after your story reaches the masses. And that will be soon… very soon. Wow, isn’t that a little nerve-wrecking?

Honestly, I’m kind of nervous about what people will say about the work we’ve created. So far, the early reviewers have been kind. But… it seems not many are willing to give your tale a shot. It’s unconventional after all. Still, I think we can both agree that the number of books sold isn’t as important as the people who read your story. So let’s just hope that The Slave Prince touches lives instead. That is why we wrote it in the first place, right? And no matter what happens, we’ve done good.

With May 29th around the corner, it saddens me that our journey will soon come to an end. Even though we’ll still be friends, we won’t be seeing much of each other any longer. No more late night conversations. No more coffee breaks. We’ll part ways–recalling our history only when we gaze into a starry night sky. If it is possible, I don’t want us to be like that. But only time will tell if we can continue to work on your story. And until the unknown future comes to past, I wish you all the best in life.

May you go on more great adventures, Thom. May magic beckon you to live more heroic tales. May you never forget who you are. And may you always believe in the power within you. You’re a prince, Thom. A true prince–the Majestas Regia will always remind you of your story.

It has been a pleasure, meeting, knowing, and working with you, Thom. Let’s not forget what we’ve created together. And let’s continue to do great things until the very end.

Yours forever, Jeyna.

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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Dear Victor [12 Genre Months]

Dear Victor,

You need to stop. Stop making me think these vicious thoughts. Stop putting these vile images in my head. Stop filling my dreams with these disgusting fantasies. Stop turning me into a monster. I beg of you, Victor. Please stop. I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to be an animal. I’m a person. I’m a good person. Please let me be a good person, Victor. I don’t want to be the bad guy any longer. Please… just let me be human.

Thy Adam

“How many letters are there?”

“Hundreds.”

Dear Victor,

You are a sick and cruel man. You need help. You are deranged. The news people call me horrible names, but they don’t know anything. They don’t know that it’s not me. It has never been me. It was always you. You and your sinful plans. You and your crazy desires. You’re the corrupted beast they talk about. Not me. Never me. Now look at what you’ve made me do. You must be happy. You must be proud. But enough. Enough of this madness, Victor. You have to stop now. I’m not going to do your bidding anymore. I’m not yours. I won’t be yours. I cannot be yours any longer.

Adam

“Where do you think he planned to go with these?”

“You think they’re made up?”

Dear Victor,

I told you to stop. I told you many times. Don’t push me, Victor. I can do scary things on my own. Vile, vicious, scary things that are worse than anything you can come up with. Worse than the thoughts you put in my head–worse than the actions you make me take. If you don’t make me a hero like those before me, I’ll be the monster you created. And I’ll destroy you. Before my story ends, I’ll take you down. You will never see the success of your wicked plans. You will only regret–regret everything.

Adam

“They can’t be real.”

“The writing isn’t in his own hand–we ran tests. And based on the interviews, we have reason to believe these weren’t his own words.”

Victor,

I’m done reasoning with you. Do you think this is a joke? I’ve seen you laugh at my letters. I’ve heard you mock them, as though my words are meaningless. But they’re not meaningless. I will find a way to reach you. And when I do, Victor, I will end you. Just like your plan to end my life, I will end yours. You won’t be able to corrupt my future any longer. You will be in a grave. I will put you there myself. I will use these hands–hands you’ve used to kill innocent lives–to kill you. It will be the end of your story. Now, wouldn’t that make a good plot twist?

Adam

“So we’re talking about a homicide–not suicide?”

“I don’t know. The pieces don’t match up. There were no signs of a break-in or a struggle. It looks like suicide, but something just doesn’t seem right.”

Victor,

I’ve found a way through. I can reach you now. I can physically reach you. I don’t have to leave you letters anymore. You cannot dismiss me now. You cannot ignore me. Just you wait, Victor. I’ll come for you when you least expect. But until that day, where you finally face the monster you’re so proud of, I’ll watch you. I’ll remember your last laughs. I’ll be thankful for the life you gave me. After all, you are my beloved creator. And you deserve what little gratitude I have for you… before I write you into my story.

Adam

“Possibility of a crazy fan? You know how some of them can be.”

“That’s my first theory. But even his closest friends didn’t know anything about his new book–only his publisher had access to the notes, and even they weren’t made privy to what Victor had already written. And, if it was indeed a crazy fan, why didn’t he report the letters?”

Victor,

Tonight is the night. I have it all planned out. You cannot rewrite this story. This won’t be a draft. My plans will not be edited. You have no control over me, not when I’m in your world, and no more after tonight. I look forward to seeing you, Victor. I’m ready to meet my maker.

Adam

“This investigation has gone on for too long, mate. His fans are demanding a resolution, so just make up a story and we’ll run with it.”

“That’s not how I do things, you know that.”

Dear Victor,

May your story live on, and may the lives you’ve written be finally free.

Thy Adam

“Oh look, this last one makes for a good book dedication. Just right the report, all right? Then you can finally call yourself an author.”

“That’s a crime.”

“Aren’t all authors criminals?”

“Not in their world, they’re not.”

“This isn’t your world. This is Victor’s.”

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12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

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How Do You NOT Give Up?

How do you keep going without burning out? How do you stay inspired during dry spells? Where does your determination come from? Have you ever thought of giving up? How do you not give up?

Familiar questions–questions you might have asked, received, or pondered upon. And, important questions too, especially when it comes to our dreams and passions. We all know success comes from not giving up. But sometimes… well…

So, how do we not give up? Personally, I…

#1 Don’t Focus On The Negative

Constructive criticism is great for improving my skill, but outright negative comments aren’t. Comments that are hurtful and mean have the ability to destroy my hopes and dreams. And, because I can’t tell people what they can and cannot say, the only thing I can do is ignore them–turning away from those negative words and focusing on the encouraging ones instead.

Focusing on the positive helps to keep the wheels turning. I often find myself returning to positive words whenever I doubt my abilities and strengths. I would read an old comment or book review and my day would be instantly brightened. Words are powerful. The ones we choose to listen to dictates our path. So don’t focus on the negative. Start focusing on the positive instead.

#2 Set Achievable Goals

‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,’ that’s what they always say. But not all of my dreams have to scare me. Not all of my goals have to be star-high. I need achievable goals too. They sharpen my skills and take me one step closer to my bigger dreams. If all I’m focusing on is the end and not the path before me, I might just trip and never get back up again.

What are achievable goals? They’re not what I plan to achieve in my lifetime. Achievable goals are the books I plan to write before 2020, the number of chin-ups I aim to complete by the end of the year, and the amount of savings in my bank account for my next big trip. They’re small–far from scary–but they bring me closer to my dreams, one step at a time.

#3 Make & Execute Plans

To get somewhere, I need a plan. Setting achievable goals is part of making a plan, but it doesn’t complete the equation. I need to execute my plans too. Perhaps this is one of the most challenging parts when it comes to chasing my dreams. Execution requires me to be disciplined, diligent, and persistent. But sometimes, I’m just too lazy. So how do I counteract this laziness? I choose to do it anyway.

I’ll be honest, some of my blog posts are written at the very last minute–this one included. Despite having an idea on what I intend to write, I just don’t feel like doing it. But instead of calling in sick–giving a lame excuse as to why I missed this week’s post–I do it anyway. I carve out time to write. And by doing so, I don’t give myself any excuses–I stay disciplined and on track all the time.

#4 Celebrate Every Milestone

It’s easy to overlook small accomplishments at the desire to accomplish greater things. But if all I focused on was what I could’ve achieved, instead of what I’ve already achieved, I’m not motivating myself. Contrary, I’m discrediting my efforts for the what if’s and could have’s. And instead of acknowledging my hard work, I’m putting myself down.

I am my own biggest critic. And what I say to myself matters–my own words are as powerful, if not more, than the words of others. So it’s important to give myself credit where credit is due. I may not be able to say I’ve finished the race, but I can celebrate the journey. It is the little accomplishments that will keep me going–the little accomplishments that make the end worth pursuing.

#5 Know My Reason

I’ve written about this before–perhaps one too many times–and I’ll reiterate. Knowing why I write is the key to never giving up. I can religiously practice the four points above, but if I don’t know why I write, I won’t get far. This applies to all areas of my life too–areas where dreams and goals are present. If there’s no reason as to why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m doing will merely become a hobby. And as you know, hobbies are ever changing.

So, why do you do what you do? What is your reason? If you want to know my reason, I wrote a post solely about it here. I can guarantee you, that if you have a strong reason for your dreams, you will never give up. In fact, it becomes almost impossible–giving up is no longer an option.

If you’re on the brink of giving up, don’t lose hope just yet. There’s a way to stay motivated, driven, and passionate. You may have gone off the road, but getting back on track isn’t impossible. Remember, your dreams are worth chasing. They’re achievable. So don’t stop believing in them. And don’t ever stop believing in yourself.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Trappist | Baby | Aubergine

“We have to travel thirty-nine, no, almost forty light-years for an eggplant?” he asked in disbelief.

“Aubergine,” I corrected.

“Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant, whatever you want to call it–forty light-years for a vegetable?”

“Aubergine.”

“And you said ‘yes’ to this mission?”

“It’s important. It won’t take long.”

“It’ll take us at least three years if nothing goes wrong.”

“No other ship can take the job–it’s government commissioned.”

“What does the government want with an eggplant? We have plenty on home planet.”

“It’s not an eggplant. It’s an Aubergine.”

My friend of ten years cum second-in-command wasn’t a bright person. He was courageous, ambitious, and zealous, but had no skill in deciphering hints no matter how obvious they may be–everything had to be spelled out for him. Unfortunately in this case, I could only insist on ‘Aubergine’. I was sworn to keep the nature of this mission a secret. And, as silly as it might sound to Gregson and my entire crew, we would still have to travel to Trappist-1 to retrieve the said vegetable.

“Ah, it’s because we’re a small ship, isn’t it?”

“It is,” I replied.

“Making us run errands–pointless missions,” he muttered under his breath.

I shrugged.

Despite the fact that our size–a spacecraft of only one hundred men–was the reason for being chosen, it had nothing to do with being sidelined from expeditions of seemingly great importance. Far from it, our size had put us on a hazardous path. A path Gregson would be excited to embark on if only he knew.

“Can you call for a crew meeting?” I prompted.

“When do we depart?”

“Tonight.”

Sighing, Gregson nodded and excused himself from my cabin. Shortly after he left, I headed to the main deck where my men had gathered. They donned their dark grey and ocean blue uniforms–their ranks marked by the number of stars on their shoulder pads. As I stood on the balcony overlooking the excited crew–ready for an adventure after months on the bench–regret swept up my shore.

If only I didn’t answer the call. If only I wasn’t as courageous, ambitious, and zealous as Gregson. If only I didn’t accept the mission out of a desire for some action. Even after hearing what the Excalibur had to do, I still said ‘yes’. If only my conscience pricked me then and not now–not when I had to keep a secret that could possibly cost lives.

“We will be heading to Aquarius,” I announced.

“McLaughlin, set course for 2MASS J23062928-0502285,” Gregson ordered.

“It’s a simple mission,” I said. “We are to locate Destiny–a cargo ship that last pinged near Trappist-1–and retrieve the Aubergine on-board.”

“A brinjal?” McLaughlin asked, as he tapped on his tablet.

“Eggplant,” Gregson said.

“Aubergine,” I replied.

Murmurs rose from below. My men didn’t raise their voices, but the disappointment on their faces betrayed them. Should I tell them the truth? I had sworn, but they deserved to know. After all, they were putting their lives on the line. Still, would knowing guarantee their safety? I chose not to the tell.

“Yes, it may seem like a pointless mission,” I stated. “But as part of this ship, you have taken an oath to go where no man will go. This time, it’s Trappist-1. Next time, it might be the Magellanic Clouds. The Excalibur has never chosen the adventures–we let our adventures choose us.”

It was a lie, but a lie worded to cloak their reality. Yes, my vessel and the men within have never chosen their adventures–I chose them for them. But this time, it was important. We had to successful return the Aubergine to our home planet. It wasn’t just a vegetable of seemingly little importance, it was a child–a baby in cryosleep that needed to return to earth. For if we didn’t save this child, leaving it to the wolves out for its throat, humanity would face complete annihilation. Home planet would cease to exist. And it would be the end of adventures… for good.

“We will depart tonight,” I said. “If any of you wish to sit out on this mission, you can disembark and leave your uniforms behind.” That was the least I could do.

“None of our knights will surrender their swords, Arthur,” Gregson said. “We shall all go!”

Many cheered. Some chuckled. A few shrugged.

“To save a vegetable,” Gregson whispered to me.

“Aubergine.”

“Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant–who cares?”

I did. I was the only one who could.

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Trappist, aubergine, and baby were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. Honestly, trappist set the direction of this story–if not for what I found on Google, I wouldn’t know where to start. Talk about random words!

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of April to write a story of your own with the three words given. A shout out to Vincent for making this even more difficult than it already is.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2018 in Original Works

 

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My Not-So-Perfect Life

I contemplated about sharing this with you. I know some people don’t like it when you air your dirty laundry in public, while others are quick to advise you against it. Personally though, I don’t want to put up a perfect persona online. I don’t want to live a double life, just because I’ve not seen you in person. Who I am here, should be who I really am every day. So, I decided, I want to be human with you. I don’t want to be just that author you follow online, I want to be a person. After all, many of you have been reading my works for years. Some of you I’ve spoken to via emails and social media. It’s only fair that you know who I am and my imperfect life–the facets that often don’t translate through the screen between us.

But before I begin, let me just say I never knew I would admit to this one day. I didn’t think it would happen to me. And when it did, it was so subtle that by the time I realised it, I wondered why I didn’t see what was happening. Thankfully, I eventually saw it. And I’m currently working on beating this demon: orthorexia.

Orthorexia isn’t a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, as it often manifests in the form of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. For a while now, I’ve struggled with binge eating. But when I looked up the symptoms, I found that I didn’t exhibit much of them. After further research, I learned that I have orthorexia: the obsession with healthy eating.

You would think such an obsession is a good thing, right? Well, not until you hear the many stories from the many members of the fitness community. It’s not a widely known eating disorder but it exists. And the health repercussions, mentally and physically, is crippling in the long run. I’m just glad I noticed it before I experienced the full blown side effects. I’m glad I noticed it to begin with. But, what was/is it like with orthorexia?

As someone with orthorexia, I restricted my diet to a point where I didn’t consume sugar, carbs, gluten, and fruits. I didn’t eat certain types of vegetables, because they were considered high on the glycemic index scale. I found myself reading all nutritional labels and googling the nutrition content of natural foods, before I consumed them or omitted them from my diet. Whenever I failed to adhere to my ‘clean’ eating–after binging because the cravings got too hard to bear–I would rebound with more food restrictions and more exercise. It was an endless cycle–binge, restrict, binge, restrict. Yet oddly enough, when people say I was obsessive or too restrictive, I couldn’t see it. I was blinded until my binge episodes scared me into finding out what was wrong. And only then, I saw the problem.

It’s strange how some of us don’t take eating disorders or any mental illnesses seriously. Maybe because we’ve never experienced it and understood what it means to have one. We cannot comprehend what is so hard about eating that piece of vegetable or climbing out of the bed just to brush our teeth. It’s not that we are indifferent–we just don’t have the experience. And often, we think we won’t ever fall into this rabbit hole. We think we’re immune to this illness. I thought I was immune. But I guess… I’m just as human as everyone else.

I’m currently in a recovery phase, reintroducing the foods I previously banned into my diet. I also changed my eating schedule to be less restrictive. I’m giving myself the freedom to include more foods and enjoy the foods I like. I’ve told my friends about this, and I have my mother to hold me accountable–relinquishing control and listening to her advice. And though it hasn’t been easy–the fear, regret, and guilt still lingers–I know I can win this battle.

If you have a mental illness, know you’re not alone. If you think you might have one, quickly seek help and take action. If you don’t have a mental illness, be aware that it can happen to anyone–don’t ever be ashamed or critical if it happens to you or someone you know. We’re not gods. But when we beat our demons, we come out stronger and more powerful than before.

I hope this sharing–as daunting as it is to hit publish–doesn’t come off as an airing of dirty laundry but encourages you to live unashamed. After all, our imperfections make us who we are. We all struggle. We all fall. We all break. But we’re all warriors, overcomers, and fighters too. Whatever you’re going through, don’t give up and lose hope. Let’s conquer our demons together. Let’s stand victorious… and live to tell the tale.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2018 in Others

 

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Blind Faith [12 Genre Months]

“Are you one of them now?” I asked.

“You know me,” he replied.

“No, I don’t. Not anymore.”

Our pistols were drawn from their holsters–their muzzles aimed to kill. One of us would die today, and the other would live on with regret. If only he had listened to me. If only he had turned the offer down. I warned him that he would lose sight of himself. But, he was stubborn. He wanted the thrill. He found excitement in the dangers that entailed. And because of that–a selfish pursuit–another member on our team had to die.

“I’m not one of them,” he stated, holding an unfamiliar, placid mien–a sign that he had, indeed, changed.

“You’re not fooling anyone.”

“I’m telling you the truth.”

“Why did you join them?”

“I didn’t join them.”

“We know what’s going to happen tonight. So spare me the lies.”

He hesitated–his gaze shifted to the dust-laden cement floor. It was an involuntary reaction, one that occured within a split second–one I was trained to spot.

“Fine,” he said.

The world was deep in slumber. There were no witnesses in the abandoned warehouse, where we would soon bury our relationship and the truth that came with it. The secrets shared would remain within the peeling, crumbling walls. And the blood spilled would fade to a stain no one would question. But before I put the case to rest, I needed to know how and why.

“How did they change you?”

“They didn’t change me. I’m still me.”

“No, you’re different.”

I had known him for ten years. And though people do change, no change can drastically occur within three months. His unemotional, nonchalant approach in the face of death was alien. I was confident he wasn’t the man I knew. Amongst the others, he had never been able to master such courage. Despite his enthusiasm for death-defying missions, he couldn’t stare down an enemy without a flicker of fear in his eyes. But that night, he could. He could pull the trigger–murder the man who had saved his life countless times–without any hesitation.

“Think what you want,” he said. “But I’m still me–a better, un-corrupted version of me.”

“Is that why you joined them?”

“You would too, if only you saw the truth.”

“I don’t do cults.”

“We’re not a cult. We’re a movement–a resistance against your blind faith.”

“That’s what all cults call themselves–a movement, a resistance, playing gods over humanity.”

“It saddens me how you fail to see the light.”

“I’m sorry–I’ve yet to attain enlightenment.”

“You mock me now, but you’ll soon regret your words.”

Yes, regret. Regret that I would soon have to end the life of the man I once called brother. Or regret that I would soon die at his hands. But the latter wasn’t an option. This enemy was growing at an alarmingly rapid rate. Their recruitment efforts–whatever they were–were working. Two of our men had died in attempts to leave their premises, one went missing, and two openly lied about their stance–one of which I had to put down six months ago. Five elite soldiers, trained to face the worst of humanity, now lost in battle. So I clicked the hammer of my handgun.

“You’ll regret your actions,” I replied. Still, I hesitated.

There were only three of us left. If the remaining of us failed, it would be the end of the Delta team. Would Epsilon succeed after us? As my finger grazed the trigger, I shoved those doubts aside. I had to do my job, so I said a silent goodbye to another fallen member. And just before he put a bullet through my head, I put a bullet through his.

As his body fell limp to the ground, I heaved a sigh. I had to dispose of another body, but not before I made the call. They had to know. They were waiting. After two rings, the Master answered.

“Has he gone to meet with the Lord?” Master asked.

“Yes, Master.”

“Then let us pray that the Lord has mercy on him.”

“I will pray through the night, Master.”

“Will you be returning to the temple tomorrow?”

“I cannot–I’m afraid they are watching me.”

“Then stay safe and be vigilant, my son. Our Temple of Eternity will keep you in prayer, too.”

“Thank you, Master.”

“Blessed is the pure of heart.”

“Blessed is the pure of heart.”

At the click of the phone line, I heaved another sigh. Master would soon send another member of our team behind enemy lines. It wouldn’t be me–I was the only one who could restore order if one of our remaining men fell. But should they fail, my time would come. With enough prayer, I have faith I can withstand the lies of the enemy. After all, as Master said, I own the purest heart amongst them all.

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12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in Original Works

 

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The One Time I’m Never Good Enough

The one time I’m never good enough… is when I write.

“But, you’re a writer,” you say.

Exactly. I’m a writer. Yet, I feel like I’m never good enough and never going to be good enough when I write. No matter what people say–no matter the reviews I receive–I find it difficult to believe their words. It’s not that I think they’re lying. It’s just that I can’t see what they see. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this to fish for compliments. I don’t need compliments. More often than not, I have no idea how to respond and react to compliments. The only thing I can say is ‘thank you’. And though I might add a few exclamation marks and a heart emoji, I’m not actually jumping with joy. I might smile, but only for a while. Because the glimmer of hope, that I’m finally good enough, often vanishes within minutes.

Why is this? Shouldn’t I be proud of what I’ve accomplished? Shouldn’t I be confident with what I bring to the table?

No, I shouldn’t. In fact, I can’t. Because in this field, I will always be my own worst critic.

I know I cannot please everyone. I know I cannot produce flawless pieces of work. I know not all my ideas will be good. Yet, in every occasion, I wish I was better. And, I often tell myself that I can do better. But when I compare my work with the more established authors around me, I find myself falling short every time–as though I can never be good enough. And honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be. Still, in the tug-of-war of finding the worth in my work, I do not stop writing.

It’s strange, isn’t it? Not all my stories will be worth reading. Not all my characters will be loved. Not all my worlds will be captivating. And, most certainly, not all my plots will be exciting. But… I’ll still write them. I will invest my time and money into my creations, well aware they’re flawed. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Because the only time I’m good enough… is when I accept my abilities and my flaws.

Despite the imperfections and horrendous mistakes, I’ve learned to accept what I can do in every season of my life. Yes, I’m not good enough at writing–I’ll never be good enough in my lifetime–but I can do my best. I may not achieve great success, win awards, and have my works widely read, but I can strive to be better. I won’t see myself as a good writer–only decent at most–and I’m OK with that. Because being good enough isn’t reflected in my work–being good enough is loving myself and the shortcomings of being me.

So, if you’re like me and you feel you’ll never be good enough at your art, don’t beat yourself up. You’re already good enough when you’re chasing your dreams and working on your craft. It’s the perseverance that counts in life, not your popularity score. Even if you’re your own worst critic, you can still choose to be good enough at being you. We can always strive for perfection in our work, but we must also strive to love our imperfections too.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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