I also believe that it is impossible to be a good writer without empathy. How can we build rich characters whose actions are believable and heart felt, even if said character is our villain, unless we can honestly see things from their side? And so, with regards to yesterday's post, I was wrong. Be satisfied.
I Can't Get No
Sometimes we also have to be satisfied in order to find success. It's a balancing act really. Yin and Yang. Go too far in either direction and you find yourself with an empty life. I think we do this a lot when we date.
For years I had this idealized expectation of the perfect woman (I would like to take this moment to say that I ended up marrying her and that anything said from this point on is mere conjecture and hypothesizing and definitely not admissible in a court of law or the even less forgiving court of feminine analysis. . . love you, dear.) If any one of my preferred traits turned out to be missing in a prospective girlfriend I used it as a reason to start over or to avoid starting in the first place. More often than not it was the latter of the two.
Part of the cause of this was the common male attribute of fearing commitment, but we all fear commitment for different reasons. It was not until an ex of mine, who was getting onto the path of understanding herself better, snapped at me on our way back from my first and last joint visit with her counselor. “You know, maybe you should think about seeing a counselor too.”
Gasp. “What? I don't need to see a counselor.” I think I had been pointing out things that I felt were a part of what she was dealing with. That of course gets translated into “this is what's wrong with you.” Never a good idea. Women want to be heard, acknowledged, not analyzed.
“You have a pretty big fear of commitment,” she said. “Where do you think that comes from?”
“I know where it comes from. My parent's divorce.”
“And you think you're just going to fix it on your own?”
Damn her and her logic. We men have a different way of handling analysis, we button up and close ourselves off. At that point in time I brushed it off, but soon thereafter I started thinking about it. How was I ever to be happy if I wasn't willing to work on the things in my life that prevented me from finding happiness?
That's when I started searching for answers. I found a book called, Adult Children of Divorce, by Zimmerman and Thayer, a book that I suggest anyone dealing with divorce to read, both parents and children. It's very enlightening and a quick read.
I eventually postulated that I was using my great expectations as a way of preventing commitment. Not fitting my mold or finding impossible situations was my way of making sure that I didn't commit and therefore open myself up to abandonment later on.
Can we see how closely that relates to our own dissatisfaction with what we write? You've all heard me talk about Spark over and over again. I continuously revise it, making change after change. I just sent it to a friend as an example of my writing and told her not to worry about critiquing it because I wasn't going to be making anymore changes after I finished the ending. I need to be satisfied with it at some point, if I'm not it will never be submitted. There will always be something that I can do to make it tighter, more exciting, flow just a little better. Maybe there's a better hook for the beginning or an amazing twist for the ending that I missed.
And maybe, if I just sent it in, they would appreciate it for what it is and publish it. This weekend I am going to sit down and finish Spark. I'm going to be satisfied with whatever it ends up being on Sunday night, and then I'm going to start submitting.
I'll go through the process of dating. I'll court for a while and if I'm rejected too often I'll stop thinking that it's something wrong with them but rather with me or my approach. That's when I'll pick Spark back up and revise it again. Of course I might have moved on by that point in time, and that will be just fine.
That's the beauty of being on the path of self-improvement, there's always something better yet to come. Your best piece of writing won't be written today, only your best so far. So be satisfied with what you have, send it off, and start something new. If the courting process doesn't work out for that piece, when you come back to it you'll be a far better and wiser writer.
Here's wishing you a weekend filled with free flowing words. See you on Monday. I've got a good one in store for our funny and can't wait to share it with you.