A lesson from someone who hasn’t got it all figured out yet

Last week, some of you joined me in cleaning our desks; since then, my desk is… well, it’s messy again, but I had a crafting weekend where I finished crocheting a hat; see proof below.

So, my desk is covered in hot glue, beads and lots of wool, but I’m ready to become the mushroom girlie of my dreams. As a side note, if any of you crochet and are interested, I’ll drop a link to the pattern here.

Despite the mess, I’m sitting at my desk again, ready to approach week 2 with an open mind. I still don’t want to work on my book, but I did want to write this article, so at least some of my desire is returning.

I’ve been finding myself dreading the writing, so much so that I skipped yesterday’s hopeful session and chose to do literally anything else. 

Despite the failures, I’m still trying to appreciate my journey.

I’m a very all-or-nothing type of person, and it’s an awful curse. 

My house is perfect or a mess; I’m doing a 30-day health challenge or a 100-day couch challenge. I’m always caught between two extremes, and what that means for my writing is that I feel that I am the best writer or the worst. 

I could work on chapters and chapters or nothing at all. 

This style of living is great during those high seasons, where productivity is skyrocketing, but on days like today? After months of days like today? It’s rough. 

I’ve been holding onto a quote from Sieghart about disenchantment, which I’ve been applying to my journey back to writing.

‘Beauty, after all, comes in combination, not in isolation. Without a touch of sour, the sweet would be overpowering; without some pain, our joy would lose its lustre.’ 

– William Sieghart

Writing has been painful for me. Trying to write again has been humbling in the worst ways possible, but there are moments when I get a hint at how it used to feel. That old bliss, that love of wordsmithing.

Week 2 challenge

I’m a firm believer in natural cycles. Just look at the world outside. All of nature adheres to the rules of seasons, so why shouldn’t I? I’ve had a couple of wintery months in terms of creativity, but it’s time to battle against the frozen earth and try to blossom. 

So, to do that, here’s the second challenge: Finish some short-form content.

I don’t care if it’s a sentence or a novella. You can do as much or as little as you would like. You can pick any medium! There are no rules except one: finish something. It doesn’t have to be edited, polished or published… but it does have to be written.

I completed this challenge with a rather hastily written poem. It is not edited, but I wanted to show receipts. 

Sunday

The flies hover over the grass,
my friend and I drink and eat, ignoring.
The hound barks, hunts, rustles, and
we remain ignorant.
The man walks past twice,
cell phone in hand, his vice.
I tilt my head back, enjoy the sun,
and wonder where I belong.

Listen, I didn’t say that it had to be good… but I did finish it, and despite its technical flaws, I’m happy with this piece. There is something there to be polished, and that’s enough for me.

I’m learning that perfection steals my joy. That’s where I’m going wrong. Maybe the MA didn’t steal my creativity, but maybe my own fear of publishing something less than perfect did.

I want my first novel to be good. That’s a fairly normal hope for writers, but in trying to create something good, I’ve begun to judge my work too harshly. So, that’s also something to think about this week. Are you being too harsh with yourself?

Sol Stein has an editing trick that involves printing out your novel with its title page. Instead of your name, you should credit an author you already love with the piece.

Would you judge a Sanderson novel this harshly? Would you edit Woolf or Atwood this heavily?

I haven’t done the trick yet… but I’ve been thinking about it a lot while editing. It’s changed a lot for me, but that’s information for another article.

In the meantime, finish your piece of short-form content, and as always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf.