Friday, December 6, 2013

Why I Hate You

Of all the words in the universe (and the English language) my least favorite is probably "aspire".
Don't get me wrong - it's a nice sounding word in itself, and who ever made it up was probably very happy with it.
But… aspire.
Let's take a look at aspire. It feels like a thorn in my side, like something that hurts and itches every time I take a breath. What does it mean, this "aspire"?

I think the context in which I most hate it is when someone says, "I'm an aspiring writer".
That's something that, as a writer, I do notice, and hate.
Why do people say that of themselves, I wonder? Where do they think that line is, where they cross  from "aspiring" to "no-longer-aspiring", finished, or whatever they believe comes after "aspire"?

If you write, you're a writer. End of story. There's nothing to aspire to, in writing. The moment you start writing, you're a writer.

You can aspire to be a famous writer, an award-winning writer, a bestseller author. But if you're writing, you're a writer, and aspire – nothing.

"Aspire" has something painfully unfinished about it. It's a word of defeat before even having tried, a minimizing of possibilities, an admission of not being good enough for what you want to do.
It sounds like an excuse for a failure that hasn't even happened, like a formula of comfort if things go wrong.
It's a shield to hide behind when things don't go the way they were imagined.
Is it easier to say, "I'm aspiring to be a writer, but it's not working for me yet" than "I'm an unpublished writer looking for a publisher"?

How do we measure success? What makes a writer a writer? A finished manuscript? A published book? An award, a movie deal?

I think it's a measure of how seriously you take yourself as a writer, to be honest.
"Aspire" leaves that back door open for you to stop, give up, start something new without finishing what you previously started. "Aspire" is another word for "I can do whatever I want, and no one will blame me for it".

"Aspire" is the opposite of "dedication".
Being dedicated to your project means seeing it through, writing all the way to the end, editing it, and sending it off in a submission.

If you want writing advice from me, this is what you'll hear over and over again:
sit down, write, edit, submit.
It's that easy, and that hard. Don't aspire. Be dedicated.

Forget aspire. Find dedicate.