Last spring my son had two piano performances—a festival and a recital—on the same day. I watched as he struggled to continue playing after he made a few mistakes (he wanted to start over) and another student did the same. But the interesting thing to me, is that neither of these students were beginners. The beginners don’t struggle as much if they make mistakes. These two kids had high standards and their fingers couldn’t keep up with how they imagined the piece should sound.
I realize I do the same thing with my writing.
I am thankful that writing is not a performance art. Unlike when I played piano, no one sees the tears I cry at a harsh critique or a rejection from a much hoped for agent. I get to do that in private, which I am extremely grateful for.
But like the piano students, my fingers haven’t caught up with my imagination.
With other things in my life, I pick a sane, easy route. (While I love to bake, I will not be making anyone a wedding cake any time soon.) But with writing, I have the strange desire to pick the hardest thing ever.
I wonder now if some of my problems with my earlier books are that I made everything too complicated: several hundred subplots, anyone? Mashups of as many genres as possible?
See, with writing, I don’t hold back. I am not sane. And the fact that I still need to develop as a writer has never stopped me from tackling something beyond my reach.
And now here I am, having just finished a draft of a new book. I still have a lot of work to do. My rough drafts are usually more like filled-in outlines; the big work of revision is ahead. And this book is complicated in every way: a culture not my own, a theme so close to my heart it feels about to burst, a genre I’ve never tackled before.
I’m afraid that I’m going to fall on my face, or behave like I did at my piano recitals, run out of the room crying.
But I wouldn’t be writing if I didn’t stretch myself, tackle a piece that’s just beyond my reach.
I need to remember the advice the adjudicator told my son: Just keep playing.
The question this month is what is the one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? I’ve learned many things, but the most important is perseverance, or in other words, Just keep writing.
What is the one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?
What is Insecure Writer's Group?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
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