Accepting Failure/Taking Time/Doing Work
It’s hard to write about failure without making anIy piece feel like a sob session and a ploy for sympathy. But the fact of the matter is that, this month, I failed. You may have heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I didn’t commit to NaNoWriMo, which is a pledge to write 50,000 words by the end of November. There’s a similar, less intense endeavor called Contentpalooza that I was invited to participate in. Contentpalooza is a commitment to create 30,000 words worth of content or 30 images (a picture being worth a thousand words–right?).
I accepted the invitation and joined the Facebook page and posted about a few times this month that I cranked out some content and was happy about it. I was gung ho, ready to work, ready to put fingers to keyboard. And then I let life get in the way again. I failed to reach 30,000 words. I barely reached 5,000. I failed.
I’m not going to abdicate responsibility.
I let it happen. I allowed other things in my life to take up my time. My father has a saying: “You can’t make time, you can only take it.” In short, it’s all about priorities. And something that I was so excited about, so initially committed to, I dropped off my priority list. I was busy. I had things to do. Things that I chose to allow to take up my time.
But these are excuses. More accurately, these are the things that I use as excuses. Because when I wasn’t tending to these obligations, I wasn’t really doing anything.
Not writing or exercising or reading books or knitting or crocheting or baking.
I wasn’t making anything outside of rehearsal.
I was Facebooking, Words With Friendsing, Scramble With Friendsing, playing Solitaire, watching TV.
I’ll even confess that I was barely even doing anything around the house.
I’m happiest when I’m making something. This is a cardinal truth. It is natural law. I am a creative. And one of the things that is the most rewarding for me as a creative is writing. I have this gift, this talent. I am mostly squandering it by not doing the work. But why?
I’m tired. The last three years have been a long, hard slog through the quagmire that has been my life. I finally am emotionally coming out of some hard things: deaths, disease, bad doctoring, surgery, grieving kids. And while that might seem like a cry for pity or sympathy or empathy, it isn’t. It’s a big part of the reason why I don’t want to do the work even though I am called to–even though there is some beacon burrowing itself into my synapses telling me that to be content, to be fulfilled, I must write.
The call right now is to tell our story. To tell Colin’s story. I’ve told it to people in person what seems like hundreds of times. I’ve told it partially in some blog posts. I’ve shared it in bits and pieces on Facebook. I laid it bare in a gut-wrenching interview for Transforming Loss: A Documentary. It’s a story that I want and need to tell.
But I haven’t. Not because the desire isn’t there, but because the will isn’t. I’ve been working hard, mostly at putting my psychic house in order. Making it through a day without falling apart. Still grieving, but not mourning. I’ve gotten in the habit of babying myself a bit. Not demanding too much emotionally, physically or mentally of myself. Oh, sure, I’ll overschedule myself on a regular basis, but it’s usually a choice. And it sometimes seems to me that this overscheduling is a sort of subconscious subterfuge. A way to keep myself from doing the work I need to do by distracting myself with all of these other things I love to do.
But here I am. Writing SOMETHING. Working myself up to get back on the horse with our story. I wrote about 1500 words of it and walked away. I hesitate to go back to them because I may just need to chuck them, and while editing and “killing your darlings” is part of the work, it’s not fun. It’s like getting 10 rows into knitting a shawl and realizing that you should have changed stitches on rows 4, 5, and 6. So you rip it out (knitters affectionately call this “frogging”, because you “rip it, rip it”) and start all over again.
Maybe that will happen, or maybe I’ll love what I wrote in the first week of November.
Regardless, I’ve accepted November’s failure, and know that the best way to recover from it is to do December’s work.
And look, here I am, on November 30th, getting a jump start.
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