Make a mess. Take a step. Fall down. Throw it away and start over. Be wrong and celebrate the dropped balls. What could be more miserable than to be human (the greatest storytelling creature in the history of the planet and maybe the universe) and believe that you are not creative?
The Direction of Intention
August 27th, 2011
Just before Christmas I gave my writing coach, Kevin, a quick draft of an important piece I had just written for my memoir. Then I read it to a good friend who is hugely supportive and has helped propel me along my way. It wasn’t exactly good writing. It was a first draft. None-the-less, I was excited and proud of it because it had been a hard one to get down on paper, bringing up lots of “stuff” that was, well, kind of scary.
I sipped my tea slowly and made notes as Kevin commented on it. I agreed with everything he had to say. He said things like, “This is your story, not your parent’s. You need to make your presence known. I want to know more about how you REALLY feel about your mother.” I realized fear had been paying me a visit and was getting in my way. So I set about revising, trying to insert myself into the story so that I owned it. Then Christmas happened and time was short. It put it to rest until my return from North Carolina. I thought a lot about it while I was gone. I felt it was at a slow simmer on the back burner and while enjoying my visit with my grandkids, I was also looking forward to getting back to work on it.
Two weeks later and two days before I was to meet with Kevin again, I pulled the piece out of its folder and started to reread it. It was awful. It was embarrassing. I couldn’t believe that I had actually given it to Kevin and then read it to my friend. I wanted to curl up into a tiny ball and die. I dropped everything and rewrote the piece over the next two days. I tore the whole thing apart and started over, changing the order of things, deleting much and adding more. I wanted it be perfect. Well, nothing is ever perfect, but loony person that I am I keep trying and then spend too many precious moments fearing I’ve failed.
Even final drafts aren’t perfect. I continue to pull out poems that I wrote ten years ago, believing they are done, then find myself revising them. I’m learning though. I’m learning about first drafts being called “vomit drafts” or the “shitty first draft” and letting them marinate in their own juices until they’ve had time to stew. I know that perfect is a problem for me along with fear. But allowing myself to make big messes I’ll get over it.
The quote above is from my teacher and friend, David Robinson, whose blog, The Direction of Intention, is a wonderful place to visit.