One great lesson I eventually learned from all those Highland Dancing competitions growing up was that I was being judged each time on that one performance of that one dance. If I didn’t get a medal for my Seann Triubhas, it didn’t mean I was a bad dancer. It didn’t mean I was bad at the Truibhas. It didn’t even necessarily mean that my Seann Truibhas was anything less than great that day. It simply meant that, that one day, other dancers in my group performed better than I did, in the eyes of that one judge.
My beloved Five Minute Fiction is another example of this. It’s flash, with a tight time limit. Whatever comes out between 8:30 and 8:45 on Tuesday nights is what I’ve got. Sometimes it’s gold, sometimes it’s crap. Tonight, with two minutes left I realized that instead of writing a piece of flash, I’d begun a story that would be at least 2k if I finished it (I probably won’t.) My friends Kyle and Gwen rocked it this week; both are finalists! Of course I’d love to be a finalist every week. But that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer, it just means that one story I produced that one time wasn’t so great.
If you look at any successful Hollywood actor, you’ll see at least a few great movies or shows. But you’ll also see more than a few duds in the cache. Having those few duds doesn’t mean they’re a bad actor…it means that one project didn’t turn out as well as the others.
As a writer, one can feel pressure from both within and without to have every word on the page sparkle like diamonds. Ira Glass puts this beautifully…
The advantage in being a writer is that we usually have the option of editing, revising, and polishing our work, or alternatively scrapping the whole thing before anyone else sees it. We can write ten stories and shelve six of them. Of the four that are left, we can polish and publish, and hope that at least one of them hits that certain something that readers want.
I have a lot of stories on the shelf. That’s not a bad thing…I’ve grown a lot as a writer in the last three years. When I look at my early work, including stories I wrote before 2010 (when I decided to go pro) I see the seeds of something that could be great, and I see words that will forever remain in the back of the drawer, never to see the light of day. Hopefully, having now exercised my writing muscles for a few years, having a few small successes as well as my share of rejections, I can move on to greater things. My NaNo Novel might not be it. But one of these stories will be.
My ROW80 Goals are NaNo-centric. As you can see from the graph, I started strong but slipped, partly due to my goobear’s 6th birthday party. (No regrets! It was fantastic!) But I’m close enough to the goal line that I’m not really frustrated, just not as comfortable as I’d like.PS… no interviews or SciFi Q of the day posts until NaNoWriMo is DONE!