I’m the kind of person who likes to start new things. I learn a little bit of a language. Practice guitar until I can play a few chords. Write half a poem. I inevitably get bored or stuck and suddenly – like magic – I have a new idea or a different thing to try out. New ideas are always fun and exciting. Anything is possible! The sky is the limit!
The gap between what I envision and what feels possible is not yet that big.
But once that giddy feeling wears off, I usually get tired of slogging through the grunt work of getting the darn thing done. Suddenly, everything but the project at hand seems infinitely more exciting. There are piles of dishes to wash in the sink? Score! Corners of my house that have not been vacuumed in 3 years? Thank God!
Suddenly the grand plans I had when I started this project 3
weeks days ago seem like a very ridiculous pipe dream.
BUT. The few times that I’ve actually pushed through that time in the doldrums have been infinitely rewarding. Three years ago I ran a half marathon, after several months of preparation. Believe me when I say those training runs did not feel magical. But I did them anyway. Currently, I’m trying to write a novel in a month. I hit a spell of the doldrums today and thought I’d not be able to write another word. But I sat down at my computer anyway (after a great brainstorming session with a friend, mind you). And suddenly, the words came.
I’m learning that usually, when I say I want something so bad, I don’t actually want it as much as I think I do. I don’t want it enough to suffer through the doldrum moments. I’m not willing to descend into the of mess and confusion, where I’ll have to battle my doubts and insecurities, and play through the pain. I want to climb up, without first going down.
This novel project is teaching me to embrace the mess. To keep going even when failure seems inevitable. If I give up now, I won’t see what’s possible if I persevere. A couple days ago, when I had about 18,000 words and was at least 10k behind schedule, I decided:
I want to see what I can do with the talent that’s been given to me. Tonight, I reached 30,000. I’m coming for you 50k, and I’m not giving up yet!