|Sunrise from my north-facing bedroom on the solstice.|
I used to think that any effort that didn’t result in immediate success was a waste. I felt like I had to do everything well on the first try. It’s no wonder I was terrified of taking chances or trying new things. I had no concept of learning from my mistakes (or being healthily humbled by them), or even doing things badly for pure enjoyment – I just had to be as close to perfect as possible all the time.
But I’m learning to trust the process. I don’t enjoy failure, but I’m starting to see it as God’s way of teaching and equipping me. To find success, in anything, you have to learn a lot. You have to find out what works and what doesn’t, what you really want and, maybe more importantly, what you don’t want. Sometimes the only way out is through.
A while back, in one of my many search-for-significance moments, I decided I should try to write a novel this summer… just for a sense of progress as a writer. I still don’t feel anything like a legitimate writer, but maybe I would if I finished a book, even a horrible one. But remembering my one highly stressful attempt at NaNoWriMo (November is a poorly chosen month anyway, and that November was crazier than most), I got too intimidated. I decided to forget it.
This week, I had a story inspiration. Nothing revolutionary, but it dropped into my brain almost fully formed, and plausible, so I couldn’t ignore it. I ruminated about it for a day, and when I couldn’t find any deal breakers, I started a document. I have a terrible track record with following through or finishing anything longer than an article or blog post. I hit a creative wall or talk myself out of the whole idea. But this time I have something I’ve never had before: a willingness to fail. If it takes me a year to crank out a first draft, and it’s so bad that I have to toss the whole thing, I won’t be happy, but I won’t be sorry I did it. Because maybe I have to do bad work before I can do good work. Maybe I have to identify what’s not the story before I know what is. I’ve heard Real Writers say things like this for years, but for the first time, I really get it. It might look like wasting time, but I think I’ve already wasted enough time doing the opposite.
I have a loose plan in place, one that I think will work for me, and I’m ready to learn. So we’ll see what happens.
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in imperfection, the writing life