“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
Robert F. Kennedy
“Trying is always enough. ”
Patricia Briggs, Dragon Bones
“A bruise is a lesson... and each lesson makes us better.”
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Last night before going to bed I tried to write something. It was garbage. For whatever reason, the Muse didn’t arrive. When I woke up this morning, doubt and fear were hanging over me. I had nothing to say. Was this it? Was I done as a writer? Did I burn myself out, like an engine without oil? Then, this morning, after a shower, my Muse spoke to me. She whispered, “At least you’re trying.”
Then I got out of the shower and realized that it was later than I thought. I wanted to do my radio show, but I hadn’t set it up yet. When I finally got it all set up, I hit the save button, but it was too late. I missed the deadline by literal seconds. So I have to do it later. Then the Muse whispered to me again, “At least you’re trying.”
Is trying good enough? The famous line from Yoda in Star Wars rings in my ears to condemn me, “Do or do not. There is no try.” But I think what he means and what my Muse means are two different things. Yoda is admonishing Luke Skywalker to have the proper attitude in the face of a difficult test. Yoda is saying go into it with your full heart or don’t go into it at all.
When I’m trying, it’s because I’ve already gone into it with my whole heart, but there were setbacks. Failure from lack of attempt is the only real failure. Failure because things just didn’t go as hoped is a lesson.
So here are the lessons I learned in the last hour:
· Do things earlier.
· Drink more water.
· Get some rest.
· Plan ahead.
· Try again later.
· Accept what is.
Here’s something else. As a writer, I’m supposed to write every day, but I don’t have to publish every day. Yes, I have a goal to reach 365 blogs in 20 days. Yes, I try to write two blogs a day. But those are my goals, no one else’s. They’re self-imposed. The world will not end if I don’t reach them. My world will not end. My goals, even if they’re meant to serve others, are for me. The only thing I really have to do is write.
So that’s what I did last night: I wrote. And it was boring, whiney, self-indulgent and it went nowhere. It was embarrassing. Only my Muse and I will ever see it. Steven Pressfield says that much of his early work literally went into a trashcan. He told me personally that his first three books sold zero copies.
So, the Muse whispered to me, “At least you’re trying.”
Make no mistake; I’m in a relationship with my Muse. I love her with all my heart. I think last night, however, she was testing me. She wanted to see if I would write even when I was writing garbage. I don’t understand why she would need to test me after all the work I’ve done. Haven’t I proven my faithfulness after 331 blogs? Does she still doubt me?
Or maybe the test wasn’t to show her something, but to show me something. Maybe she was showing me that I really can Get Started and Keep Going…all by myself, with no one hanging over my shoulder, with no deadline but my own. Maybe she was trying to show me that I’m far stronger and far more determined than even I realized. Maybe the last eight hours wasn’t a test, but a reminder, even a reward of sorts.
I Got Started and I Kept Going.
So this morning, the Muse smiled at me, gave me a kiss and said, “You’re not only trying, you’re succeeding.”