|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.