Throughout my working life, whatever my job, I’ve always written; letters, reports, press releases and magazine articles. In one of my previous jobs I worked for the same organisation, in different roles, for 14 years. I had the same line manager for 12 of those years and until the last year at every performance appraisal, no matter what comments I received for all other aspects of the appraisal system, I could be confident that I would receive an ‘excellent’ for my writing. I write. I always have. It’s something I’ve always been good at. I’m never going to write great literature or an academic paper and I’m unlikely ever to be famous, but I can write.
In actual fact I invariably received an ‘excellent’ in 90% of the comments on my performance appraisals, often with particular commendation for my writing. Imagine, then, how I felt in that last year when I received an ‘acceptable’ for ‘written work’. Nothing had changed. I was still me, I’d been in the same job for four years, I had the same line manager but suddenly, without any warning, I was told that I wasn’t such a good writer after all. I felt as though someone had whipped the chair away just as I was about to sit down, leaving me to fall, not to the floor, but through the floor into the space below, and the space below that and, perhaps even, the space below that.
Being told by someone I had huge respect for that I couldn’t do something I was so confident about made me doubt everything about myself. Perhaps there were other things I couldn’t do that I thought I was good at. I thought I was a good listener, good at helping people work through problems, a good trainer, organizer, co-ordinator. Perhaps I was only ‘acceptable’ in those skills too? I was devastated.
Since then I’ve joined a writing group, had some work published, in print and online and I’m preparing to write my first novel.
Critics - do your worst!