When I began writing my second poetry book, Emotions in Evolution, I found myself looking back at previous work, then at my life in the past and wondering how much the past does shape our future, and how does the process work.
I guess, we look at what we wanted and compare it to where we are. Is there a huge difference? For me there is. To be honest I am disappointed in myself. I am nowhere near the place I had hoped I would be at this stage in life. On the other hand, I have done things I never imagined I would do, including writing poetry books.
I guess life has its own plans, and the only thing we can do is keep a positive spin no matter what road we travel. We can’t always know what to do, don’t always have the necessary knowledge and hence we do the best we can in the situation presented. I decided the best way to get over my feelings was to write myself a love letter showing myself some understanding. I was young and there was so much I didn’t know. What about you? Is your life what you hoped? Feel free to write in and let me know.
A love letter to the girl that was
It starts as a rose bud.
Tiny tender petals
of youth, of not knowing,
until the bud explodes.
And the sweet, untouched flesh
bleeds with longing as it settles.
There were thorns that lingered,
thorns that pricked,
the unsuspecting digits.
Thorns, not only daring to grasp,
but arrogantly and greedily, fingered.
We took without asking,
assuming our fingerprints had rights
to the leaves of forever young, and
we tainted, misappropriated
while sunshine basking.
(Emotions in Evolution, see links below for eBook and paperback see links below)
Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? Follow me and ask away:
Failure is a word. Words can be manipulated. Certainly, failure on first acquaintance appears unpleasant but if we look beyond that initial first reaction we can view it as a gauge to improvement. It also provides the impetus to re-group and acts as the challenge to our creativity. With luck and hard work, it can bring out the very best in us.
Our negative view of failure, or rather society’s view, can stop that from happening. Making mistakes is acceptable, failing isn’t and failing often is unconscionable. For some reason as soon as the word appears, reason flies out the window. Why? We failed early and survived. Why shouldn’t we fail often and keep surviving or possibly do better than that by improving whatever it is we are doing?
I am an English teacher and so there are expectations when I write but I make silly errors and I make them often. I have worked hard to be comfortable with this, and I work harder to make my students comfortable with their errors. Not complacent, comfortable and there is a difference. I had to learn that because without realising it I managed to cross over into the second phase, the one where we fail often.
There is so much out there to learn, and I can’t do it all at once. I am sure some people can. I can’t, so the only way forward was to accept failing often. Rather than a comfort zone I sought being comfortable with failing often, and consequently the negative connotations have been replaced with believing each failure will offer secrets, new information to make the next time easier.
This is what I encourage in my students, this understanding, because it encourages both the continuation of the learning process, and the love of learning. I know I will never reach the stage of stopping. Why would I want to stop something so amazing? Knowledge, and the improvement it brings, is the most satisfying thing in the world. Suddenly that too often fail begins to look more like a win.
I edited over 90,000 words. Of course, I wasn’t going to get it right (FAIL). I learned so much, so much more than I expected (WIN). I did it again and missed things again (FAIL). I recognised what I had missed in my work and I am recognising it in other places. In fact, so much so, that each day I grow a little in confidence (WIN) despite never ending errors that come my way constantly (FAIL). You see, I am learning to transfer that recognition to other work I have in progress (WIN). I have also stopped beating myself up (HUGE WIN).
This is my experience, a personal experience in this journey I have chosen. I am equally sure that you are experiencing something similar in your chosen fields of employment, or even in life in general. I have wished I had never stepped foot on this road so many times. Can you relate? It is so exhausting, mentally and physically, to chase a dream. Succeeding is not about the adage, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again. That would be too simple. It leaves out the fact, the acknowledgement, that failure is valuable. Succeeding is about the willingness to learn from that failure and letting it fuel your next step. I wrote a little poem about my process and making choices.
The do do might be my undoing but I couldn’t resist it. Time is a friend and sometimes time is an enemy, and if we are not dedicated enough to persevere we could end up with this rhyme instead.
Life is for living, and failing is a big part of living well. Stay tune for Part 3
It’s been a busy two weeks. Started a new job, commenced some volunteer work with adult migrants, am half-way to losing my voice and as much as I like Sydney I am missing my family. I read this great post by Meg Dowel in A Writer’s Path about why we often given up on our dreams, or at the very least, are tempted to. We get caught up in our lives and we don’t have time for dreams.
Like many posts I read this one appeared to be about writing and ended up being about life. Meg in her article makes some very relevant points. I am at a pivotal point in my writing. Having spent endless hours improving (I hope) my manuscript so I can offer a better product and go to print I am not so much afraid of the outcome but more wishing I hadn’t started in the first place. I know, right? Nuts.
But, come on, how many of you out there have started a project, and then wished you had stayed in your hole? I am betting there are a lot more of you than I can count on both hands. We all want to be more than we are. It’s about wanting to follow a passion and succeeding in a task, challenge or goal you have set for yourself. It’s hard work, sometimes too hard so of course you will be attracted, tempted by reasons not to continue, and there are reasons.
Boo Hoo, no-one cares: The most painful reason is the one where you feel no-one else cares. Meg has that at number one. I know why. “It’s lonely when not even your friends or family seems to show an appropriate level of enthusiasm for your work.” People get busy. That’s the reality of life, and the truth is that this is your mission, not theirs. If you want to get to your destination then ‘suck it up, buttercup’ and just get on with it. Pretend the whole world is onside and maybe people will believe it and climb aboard the train. I would.
Negative reviews and/or criticism: This can upset our equilibrium. However you put yourself out there, so you have to take the consequences. Meg says you “can’t get mad just because someone doesn’t have all nice things to say about your work. It’s just not how the editorial process flows.” You can however learn to distinguish the helpful comments and let those polish your work.
Reminders of how hard the world of that profession is: There are people out there who will remind you about the competition you face in your choice of profession, especially in writing. Yes, it’s true and temptation rides us hard to step away but then we will never know, will we? I was afraid to blog at the beginning. I can’t think why as nearly two years into it has meant I have come across so many wonderful people. It has been the best of experiences.
I remind myself constantly that I am doing something I love and it doesn’t matter what other people do and say. The most important thing is to maintain an open mind to learning new things and trying to do better. There are a wealth of helpful sites out there to make things easier. I have just found two more, The Writer’s Path and Writers helping Writers. Both these sites have some great information on just about every subject, and especially editing. I even found a crutch words list (overused words) and just seeing these words in front of me has made a difference. I am guilty as charged.
If your willingness to improve is there in whatever you choose then satisfaction follows. Following your heart and doing something you love is amazing in itself. This is what I meant about it being about more than writing. We should listen to our hearts and stay positive, and I think if we do the support will grow. I think you have to dance as if you have that audience. I firmly believe tickets to the performance will come when the time is right.
Time to go but I would like to leave you with some books I have totally loved over this last week or so. These two authors have given me so much pleasure that I just had to share. The romance has been hot, the action enthralling and the writing just what it should be to keep a reader captive. All of the books have been part of a series that has improved with every book. You all know I am an avid reader (currently participating in the Goodreads Reading challenge for 2017 and am pretty close to my 150 target), and trust me at times, series can seriously lose their momentum. Not these authors and not these books but I warn you they are are about magic and if you not a fan then these books may convert you. I have given you the link to Amazon just in case. But, if I were you I would start with Book 1 in both cases.
Thank you to Ilona Andrews and Thea Harrison, for being magical magicians of the written word. I needed your wonderful escapism this week to remind me to keep going.