For Sunday, March 27, 2016:
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”
“Writing is a delicious agony.”
That first sentence can be a bear. And that first brushstroke on canvas. And the first keystroke on a nascent Website. How many times have we started a creative enterprise that’s new to us – or maybe not so new – and hesitated with the first motions? Sometimes even setting out on a new driving journey we take a wrong road and have to turn around and start over again.
This is on my mind as I look forward to getting back to the draft of the first chapter of what will be my third novel, the sequel to my second novel, which is almost ready for production. Each of us has our own creative versions of the first sentence, the first brush- or keystroke, the first stitch of the needle.
With most things, though, the angst – the creative anxiety and, perhaps, trepidation – ahead of time is, I think, worse than actually sitting down to start. Once we start, we can erase, delete or paint over wayward words or images, take out stitches, turn around. There are always opportunities to start over again. Yes, we’ll continue to make mistakes or decide a different word is better than that one, the last paragraph should be the first one, but that’s all part of the process.
One of THE most important things I learned when I went back to school as an adult to finish my BA was to ‘trust the process.’ This was our mantra. I remember the countless times we heard it in faculty presentations and in one-on-one conversations with our advisors. When we started repeating it to new students, we knew we had internalized the words and the reason and made them our own.
The creative process has its own timetable, its own way of expressing itself, its own way of supporting us in whatever we set out to do. With that foundation, we know there’s always a way through the ‘terrible’ – which usually isn’t all that terrible, really – to get to the ‘delicious.’ If it doesn’t look like our first vision, then we trust the process will effect something even better.
After all, if we don’t take an occasional wrong turn, if we only stick to the roads we know, we won’t happen upon occasions to explore new views or new viewpoints. We don’t learn much from the same old-same old. Those happy ‘accidents’ usually open up broad new vistas, but if we don’t start out to begin with, we won’t find them.