Some of you who have been around for a while may be aware that I struggle sometimes with passing judgment on others - especially on people whom I perceive as being not as talented as myself - which can lead to feelings of superiority and a condescending attitude. It spirals into a dark pit of nastiness from there, but it's something that I've been working on for some time.
This week, I had a... moment of weakness, shall we say, while listening to someone else speak.
But afterward, while I was thinking about it, I realized that I do this with books and fanfiction very frequently - more often with fanfiction for relatively obvious reasons. From the moment that I read a line and say to myself "I could do it better," my opinion of the author is at stake, and the more frequently I find myself thinking how much better I could do it, the more my opinion of the author and of the story as a whole starts to sink.
For example, when I read Artemis Fowl as a kid, I thought it was just about the best thing since slices bread. When I went back and read it again after college, I found myself saying "this is inconsistent," "that dialogue might have been smoother," and "this character is superfluous." I was actively taking a story that I have loved for years and tearing it apart, and not even in a way I particularly enjoyed.
And I started to ask myself - WHY? Why was I doing this? I don't like it, I don't enjoy it, and it's ruining the enjoyment that I initially received from this story. So in the name of all things good, why am I criticizing it like this? Why am I judging something I already love?
I think (I don't know yet, but that will only take time, which I have plenty of) that I do this because I have the same desire that everyone else does - I want to be good at something. More than that, I want to be undeniably good. Not just "good enough" but FANTASTIC. I want people to look at what I can do and say without a doubt that it is better than what someone else could have done with the same resources.
That's a problem.
I don't think it's a bad thing to want to be good at something. I don't think it's even a good thing to want to be recognized for being good at something. But it absolutely is a bad thing when the desire to be good manifests itself in my being critical and dismissive of the talents of others. This is something I need to work on in myself, and while I don't know if it will ever be "fixed," I do think that I will eventually become better at not doing that.
For now, we'll call it a "core idea" and start building on it. If you have any suggestions (other than "try harder") I would love to hear them.
Until next time, stay awesome, Inklings.