I’ve been thinking about failure and mistakes lately.
During my formative years, the mindset in my house was that making mistakes was a sign of weakness, leaving me terrified of any possible failures and petrified to make mistakes. It took until later in adulthood to realize that this lack of experimentation left me with limited experiences and rendered me maladapted for personal growth. My belief in this negative notion shadowed many choices in my life.
I felt so lost. I was Alice, asking the cat which way I ought to go but never caring where that was. I moved forward in life and always made it somewhere, but not necessarily where I really wanted to be. And definitely not where I needed to be most of the time. I was stuck in the place between back there and my wildest dreams.
I think this feeling of being so scared to fail or do anything wrong, it prevents one from even trying. How can you learn new things if you never try? How can you learn what doesn’t work if you never fail?
I’ve been a keen observer of this within my writing. I started off failing and could see it plainly on the page but least I was trying. So I wrote and wrote and wrote. And some of it was good and some of it sucked. But I learned. Every day I write, each new story, scene or essay; I improve. I smell the fertile words and plant the seeds that I will get to blossom later. I smile when my writing comes together and makes sense. I am proud when I see it shine and glow, my own private magic on paper. I love the writing process. I might not get it right the first time and maybe not even the second time I revise it. Maybe the third time though. Some days I feel like I am painfully ripping the words from deep in my chest and other days the words flow from my fingertips like a powerful stream. I can empty my mind on the paper and analyze what is there. I feel blessed to be able to create like this. I am grateful for the teachers who have encouraged me to go wild and make mistakes. I am grateful to have listened to them.
I feel this change occurred because of my writing or because of getting through my writing or perhaps it is simply a huge coincidence. With my writing I am now willing to make mistakes, realizing that any mistake I make, I can fix. This has been a vital component of my personal growth as well.
While I aspire for perfection, I know I am far from it. I know that I will continue to make mistakes along the way. I also know not all of those mistakes will be bad. Some of them might just become exactly what they are supposed to be… such as a fresh new insight or a fresh new idea.
I think it is vital to look at and talk about what works and what doesn’t work. I think it is nice to chew on new things and to play with new ideas and test different ways of doing things. That is the coolest thing about writing, everything can change or be changed. A word here or there can change the entire feeling, the meaning or even the readers’ expectations. Like an attitude or a favorite piece of wardrobe, writing is so mutable. So diverse. So integral. Mistakes and failures are clay in the author’s hand, illuminating around an idea, building through alchemy.