Saturday, October 9, 2010
Just Because You Don’t Know How
…is no excuse not to try. I’d be a rich woman if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, “Oh, I’m not creative; I don’t really know how to do (this or that, fill in the blank).” Most of us didn’t have a clue how to walk when we were infants, but at some point the desire to get somewhere fast overcomes the fear or clumsiness or outright pain that often accompanies those first few steps. Most of us didn’t give up because we tumbled over the first few attempts we made.
If there’s something you’ve yearned to do, but lacked the support or courage to try, or feared looking ridiculous, or failing, this blog entry is for you.
I’m thinking back to the things I would have missed that have enriched my life if I’d given into the belief that I didn’t know how to do them. Have I done them all well? No, not all of them; but there was joy in the doing and in the walking through the “I can’t(s).” I’m thinking here of my first sewing project when I was pregnant. I come from a long line of quilters, tatters, knitters, crocheters—women who created family heirlooms that have been passed down and treasured through generations. Not being a real eye-hand kinda gal, it wasn’t until I was pregnant that the heirloom treasure bug bit. Not being in the possession of a sewing machine, I was determined to make a welcoming gown from the prettiest, girliest, softest flannel, by hand, for my daughter that would be passed down to her children, and their children, and so on. And I did it. Well, sort of. If she’d been born 18 lbs, maybe 26 inches long with a pin head, it would have fit her perfectly. We didn’t get a lot of use out of it, but I loved every stitch in that garment. Fortunately, she had twin boys.
The point is, I tried. I’d been looking for a way to sort my thoughts and share some things I was learning about altered states of reality back in my late forties. Friends said, “You should just write a book.” Write a book? Are you kidding? I don’t even have an MFA; I don’t even spell all that well. “That’s what editors are for,” they insisted. Editors? How do you find an editor? The task seemed daunting. What if I wrote a book and it didn’t sell? (Don’t get ANY writer started on that one) I figured out the structure by reading other books in that genre. I asked a million questions of other writers. I found out how to locate and work with (and pay) an editor, and the value of having someone in that role. I learned about query letters, synopses, marketing plans, agents, and how to receive rejection letters without disintegrating. I tried different genres: short stories, novellas, screenplays, non-fiction, blogging. It literally opened up a whole new world for me. After years of efforting and reams of paper, I’ve even been rewarded by having a few things published.
Then, songs started floating into my head—songs that were waiting to be written by me, it seemed. But I don’t know the first thing about composing songs, I complained. I read music, I sing, I play a little piano, but writing music is a whole different animal. I couldn’t possibly… People do it all the time, I rationalized; how hard could it be, really? Okay, so it’s hard. There’s a whole lot to it that I had to learn by trial and error and humiliation and feeling totally stupid. I asked a million questions of people who were doing what I wanted to be doing. I figured out how to use a music composition program on the computer that turned my creations into sheet music that could be printed out or played back on the computer. How cool is that? After more years of efforting, and reams of paper, I’ve actually had some of my songs performed by professional musicians. The reward of hearing something you’ve created brought to life by performance is mind-boggling.
A friend joked, “Is there anything you don’t do?” Widows, I replied. Then again, how hard can that be? Two final words of encouragement, just try. I’d love to hear about your experience.
Until then, here is some inspiration to hang onto—a moment in the life of someone who refused to believe she couldn’t: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJIDr15dyzk&feature=related Enjoy.