Today I feel like a leaky sugar bowl, like sweetness is coming out from between my jagged cracks and edges and softening them. I feel like a tired calendar that is ready to drop from the wall and rest.
I’m on day three of my November poem-a-day challenge, and I am happy to say that I’ve written three terrible poems.
There are good bits in each one. One poem, about a terrible pearl, ends with the a reflection on nothing being left over except the work of living. Yesterday’s poem was about bivouacking, a new word I discovered. And today’s poem is about a sugar bowl that fell to the ground and shattered.
What I’m realizing is that things are more quickly coming to mind, things I never would have thought about had I not created this challenge for myself. Frankly, I wouldn’t be able to think this quickly if I hadn’t done the past month or so of daily writing on my blog.
And even though I’ve sent some pretty disappointing words onto the internet, I know I have so many more to go through. Like, probably years worth of awful writing before I get to the good stuff.
Which brings me to the point of today’s concise blog post:
In order to do the thing that you’ve wanted to do for so long, you have to do the thing.
And you have to be terrible at it, and you have to keep doing it anyways.
You have to look yourself in the eyes and say, yes, I am hungover and angry and drawing every blank in the world, but I must do this thing or else I cannot do this thing. And here’s the truth from someone who has been doing her thing every day for only 42 days: it’s awful. Some days it’s physically painful and you’ll sit at your desk and yell about how you don’t want to.
Those are the days that you just do whatever it takes to say you did it: even if the blog post is more whining, even if the poem is so abstract that a balloon wouldn’t bump into it.
I’m so, so sorry to tell you this. But if you aren’t doing the thing, then you aren’t doing the thing.
It’s something I’ve been told and every fiber of my being lashes out in defense and anger, but from where I stand right now it really is the truth.
There are so many days ahead of me that I will probably not do the thing. And there are deadbeat days ahead of me, but at least now I know that I am truly capable of handling the work, even at its worst.
Bad example: if you want to be a singer. Are you singing? It doesn’t have to be daily, but it helps if it is. Sing in the car, in the shower, in your designated singing room. Sing even if you’re hungover, and sing especially if you’re drunk. If you’re not singing even when you’re drunk, then you are somebody who wants to be a singer—you are not a singer. I am sorry.
I am, for all intents and purposes, a writer. I am not a good writer, but I write every day. I have been a writer for 45 days, but before then I was an aspiring writer. Before that, pretty much everything I wrote was emails, so I was an emailer.
Here’s the bottom line: if there’s something you want to do, do it. Sneak out of your day for a few minutes here and there and do the thing. Let yourself be devastatingly, embarrassingly bad at it, practice it, nurture it. And then get better.