The grass is always greener…

In primary school I had a friend who was really good at athletics. Whoever was up against him would aim for a ‘B’, because they knew he’d get the ‘A’. I was really jealous, and would have given anything to be as good as him.

Years later, in high school, I found out he was just as jealous of me because I was in the higher maths group. Now I didn’t think anyone would be jealous of a maths nerd (yes, I was quite definitely a nerd back then), but he was. From his perspective, being good at sport got him the sports card with all the A’s circled, but it didn’t make school work any easier for him.

These days my “talent” is writing. But it’s one I’ve had to work really hard at, because I sucked at English in high school. (My final English report card had five words written on it: “Fewer jokes, more work Bill”.) But even though it’s something I’m relatively good at, and that I’m damn proud of, I still get jealous when I see what other people can do.

Funnily enough, writers aren’t at the top of that list. Sure, I can name dozens of writers I’d love to be able to write like. (Does that sentence seem awkward to you?) But those writers inspire me more than anything else, because if I keep practising I may just get there. Even if I never reach their level, they teach me something and help me become a better writer.

No, the people I’m most jealous of are the ones who do things I’ve never been able to do: play a musical instrument, read music the way someone reads a book, draw something beyond stick figures (I must be the only person who runs whenever someone says the word “Pictionary”), paint a picture…

… and design a website.

I’ve got a heap of books on how to use CSS to do all sorts of magical things. I have hundreds of Photoshop tutorials sitting on my hard drive, just waiting to be devoured. But my blog still looks like someone stole all my crayons. (For those of you thinking, “Oh, he’s gone for the minimalist look”, it’s nothing like that. I just have no artistic ability whatsoever.)

I’ve thought about paying someone to do the design work for me, but then I realise I don’t even have a clue how I want it to look. So I go back to adding more posts, and hoping that one day the words will be so good people won’t realise they’re sitting on a blank canvas.

The funny thing is, whenever I tell graphic designers and web designers how much I hate them for what they can do, they come back with, “Yeah, but you can write”.

I wonder if they were good at athletics in primary school.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Jen February 21, 2010, 12:14 pm

    I recently tried to design business cards. It went a little bit like this: excitement, confusion, panic, fail, hide.

    Thankfully I know a great designer who was able to put together something that looks incredibly simple but I just love… I’m ordering five different cards soon – all technically the same, just with a different colour on the back.

    Unfortunately I’d decided I wanted blue text on the front of the card. I was told the text on the front had to complement the colour of the back. Did you know there’s a whole scientific equation to determine colours?? I didn’t! I was directed to a website, put in the colour code, complementary colours were spat out at me, I baulked. Much yuckness.

    So now I’m sticking with plain black font. I feel very boring but it means I can choose any colour I want.

    I work with a couple of astounding web designers. Their work is just brilliant. But I thought colours were just a matter of “ooh, that’s pretty!” Now I know it’s not I respect them so much more. I don’t have a favourite colour, granted, but to have to put aside all personal preferences for shades of ick because of scientific calculations on what someone else’s eye is more likely to appreciate? I couldn’t do it.

    The worst thing is… I’m just talking about colours here. They do so much more. They need to get into the user’s mind to determine the best place for everything to maximise user experience (and organisational profit). They have science and research to back them up but it’s still a very objective art. And everyone has an opinion. With writing, people either like my style or they don’t. They’re unlikely to sit and squabble over a word. It happens sometimes, but it’s rare. But designers have to deal with personal opinions at every moment of every day. Much respect.

  • hrm February 27, 2010, 4:53 pm

    your a writer. keep it simple. focus on your words 🙂


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