Remember what it felt like to play, to try things out just for the sheer joy of it, to love to experiment as if you life depended on it? Not because you needed to succeed–but because you needed to try out a whole lot of things for the hell of it.
What happened to that? Who took it away? And why is it so hard to get back to that?
Worse, why is it so easy to lose it again?
These are questions I ask myself when I’m having a not so great writing day–or week–or year.
I know one answer for sure:
It was made very clear to me by people I loved and who loved me who shall be nameless at this time but who looked very much like my beloved father who said, when I brought home my report card WITH ALL A’s:
That is what we expect of you.
Wait. All A’s is perfect.
(In those days you didn’t get any A+s. The 4.5 scale hadn’t been invented yet and everyone didn’t get a prize for showing up. And, yes, in fact we also walked to school uphill in the snow both ways.)
But I digress.
All A’s = perfect. And that was what was expected of me. I wasn’t an overtly oppositional kid, so what that meant to me was: don’t even find out what not perfect means.
Don’t try anything.
Because you might fail.
And that certainly WASN’T what was expected of me.
Lord, it was a heavy burden to carry–that perfection. Luckily for me, I had to put it down a long time ago. So many things went so dreadfully ass-over-teakettle that there was just no way to avoid admitting to some pretty spectacular failures–in life, marriage, parenting–and, of course, writing.
But so many of those failure were fortunate failures–those failures that made it all possible, that saved me.
Too bad I didn’t learn that way earlier–but I’ve got a good grip on it now. It would be hard to be more perfectly imperfect that I am now.
It’s never too late to learn a lesson–and the lesson I’ve learned is that there is no success without a whole lot of failure–that the failures have taught me patience and grit. They have tested me and tempted me to give up, to quit, to say the heck with it. And yet I never gave up.
In fact, I have failed at giving up.
Here is something I’ve learned for a fact:
It’s Never Too Late to Be the Writer I Meant to Be
What about you? Have you failed at giving up too? Have you learned to love failure because it means you’re still in the game?