Thursday, November 15, 2012

Perfect or Not, Practice Makes


The desire to write something, anything, can sometimes be overwhelming. Especially when the ideas bouncing around in my head won’t clarify and merge into complete thoughts. I have so many pictures flashing before my eyes, but the slideshow doesn’t pause on any given one long enough for me to say, “That’s it! I’ll write about that today.”

I’ve been staring at the proverbial blank page on this computer for days. There have been times when the black letters -- typed side by side to create words, those words strung together to create sentences -- break the blankness; but mostly it’s been a blank white page.

I desire to write, but I don’t make myself sit down and do it. Writing can be easy for me, but I can be bloody hard, too. When it’s hard I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to sit and stare at the blank page. I don’t want to wait for an idea to reveal itself. I don’t want to wait for the idea that I have to form itself into complete thoughts and sentences. What I’m realizing is: if I just sit down at my desk and begin, something will happen. “If you build it, they will come.” Look at that. I’m having a Kevin Costner moment.

I was watching Days of our Lives yesterday and the twist in one their plot lines became annoying apparent. I could see what was going to happen from a mile away. I was also disheartened. You see, I had the same idea for a couple of characters in a piece of fiction I’m currently working on. An idea that came to me several years ago when I wanted this piece of fiction to actually be a television show; a soap opera to be exact. You can imagine how my heart sank as a saw an idea of my own play out on television in front of my eyes. I’m not suggesting plagiarism. I’m suggesting that someone else had the same idea as I and they used it first. Now it will seem as if my idea came from watching theirs.

This is the third time I’ve found myself in this situation. It’s frustrating every time and always lights a fire under my ass to move on my ideas, to be creative. Then that fire begins to die and instead of throwing another log on it and stoking it to keep it burning, I let it burn itself out until it’s nothing but cold ashes.

I’m frustrated with myself. I’m lazy. I want to go to the gym three to four times a week, but settle for one or two. I want to write every day, but don’t. I seem to have no motivation. I go to work. I come home. I watch television. I go to bed. Sleep. Wake. Repeat.

It’s no wonder my creative juices are stifled. I don’t do anything to get them flowing. I like to think the television I watch is research. I honestly do believe it is research. I love to see well crafted story lines play out. I love to be surprised and stunned by plot twists. I love to cry at the emotion of a scene. I use all of those hours of television viewing when I’m crafting my own stories. But sometimes I find myself numbing my way through an evening with red wine and bland characters instead of creating something that might be more exiting and would definitely be more emotionally fulfilling.

When I started this blog I challenged myself to do something every day so that I would have something to write about. As the years passed, I got comfortable in my life. I no longer lived in a noisy apartment building that I did everything possible to stay away from. I no longer lived with a roommate that I tried to avoid. I created a home for myself that was comfortable and safe; walls that I enjoyed being locked within. I have to talk about the word safe. It is safe. There’s no one here to judge me, but there’s no one here to challenge me. There’s no one to hold me accountable.

The more I write the easier the words flow. The more stories I tell the easier it is to tell the next one. The more I practice the better I get. And right there I landed on a word that I hate. Practice. I don’t like to practice. I like to be good at something immediately. If I have to work at it I tend to walk away from it. I don’t understand that about myself. I know that I have a perfection complex. I need everything to be perfect - from hair to wardrobe to vocal prowess to stories of fiction and non.

I am not perfect. Shocking revelation. I know. As I look back over my life I see things that I had to practice in order to be as perfect as possible. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t want to practice anymore. It’s sad to me that I find it easier to walk away from something rather than practice it in order to get better at it.

I’m not making excuses here, but I think it stems from the fact that I started singing when I was 7-years old, and it was the most natural thing for me. I took voice lessons in high school to learn how to breath properly and to support the notes coming out of my mouth, but nobody had to teach me to sing. Unfortunately, I have gotten myself stuck in an if-it-doesn’t-come-easy-I-don’t-want-to-do-it rut.

I’m the one missing out. I’m the one not singing anymore. I’m the one who isn’t telling his story. There is no one out there missing out on my life more than I.

These are just words. In less than half an hour 993 of them have spilled out of my head. I took action this morning to do that. It didn’t cost me anything and it feels so good. It also exercised my brain to organize my thoughts and get them down on paper. It was practice and it was easy. 

I’m trying to realize that everything I write doesn’t have to be a profound statement. I’m trying to get back to the place where telling the story of my adventures was fun. I’m trying to get back the place where I couldn’t go to bed until I had written of that day’s excitement, sadness, or joy. Whether I want to or not, I’m going to have to practice. 

Practice makes perfect and hindsight shows me that I love the outcome. No one has to know how grueling the process is to learn the song or write the words. They just have to sit back and enjoy the story. Then I, too, reap the benefits.

I’ve got to get it together. This in my life and no one is going to make me live it except for me. I’ve been told more than once I’m the only person standing in my way. That is a true statement. 

So, now that this blank white page on my computer is no longer blank. I can see that I’ve practiced today. It wasn’t painful and I’m still alive. There are no bruises. Practice doesn’t have to be hard it just has to be done.

My journey continues...