Take Your Time

I had a revelation yesterday.

Tuesday this quarter is the feature writing workshop. I dreaded it before it happened. I enjoyed it when it happened. Then I loved it after it did happen.

I had too many pages so was put at the last to be read. Then we ran out of time. I was a bit anxious. It was Week 8 and I just revamped my story. I really need to hear the critique then and there. Last week was a mess. Three weeks ago my stuff wasn’t read during the class. I thought I was losing my story trajectory and the voice of my characters. Thinking about it almost put me in tears. Then the nurturing instructor said if I was not in a rush, she was willing to stay behind and get my pages critiqued. My eyes screamed “I love you” at her. Almost everybody else just left the room because they had more important things to do. And I understand and respect that. Here is a good place to meditate not to take things personally. I think I am coping better now.

Then my pages were again full of red. The others were just given minor editing notes, mine was torn apart — every single time. I know that I shouldn’t compare with other people. Because everybody is in different phase when it comes to writing. I need to focus on myself, and myself only. If I am better than yesterday, that’s all that counts. But at times, I forget. That’s where my vulnerability gets me — bad.

My beloved instructor tells me to “take time with yourself, and with your writing.” “I see the improvement,” she often says. But it’s so hard to see it when we are this close to thyself. We lose sight of what’s important. We lose focus.

A third-year writer friend and I have a ritual to meet an hour before the workshop so we chat and share. She said, “a year from now, you will be so much better.” I was incredulous, “Real… really?” “Really.” She shared how insecure she felt a year ago now. How frustrated when she noticed herself lagging behind when everybody else was several blocks ahead. “You will get there, eventually.” She reassured me. “Even for those million bucks screenwriters, they are still insecure writers at heart. When you make it once, you would be haunted by the notion whether you are going to repeat or even surpass your previous success.”

When we make art, there’s always a THERE ahead of us. Because artists are never content and they shouldn’t.

So here is what I try to do — to make peace with that insecurity.

And relax.


An afterthought — 
It’s counterintuitive at first to try to relax when I have a crazy amount of work to do. But now I find being able to relax is extremely helpful to regain my focus and productivity.

Well, here is to my revelation.

Just keep swimming

I have this discussion with my cohort all the time.

Being a writer for life is hard. The rejection, the humiliation, the “you will never ever get there” self-doubt, the looming red in your finance chart.

I have a LA Lakers #8 Kobe Bryant jersey hanging on the rack. It’s the shrine of my daily faith and inspiration.

How did he get there? 
How did he become who he is today? Well, he wasn’t born this way. 
Where did he get this monstrous GRIT that all the great masters have? 
How did he overcome the physical pain day in and day out for the better part of his life? 
How did he challenge doubt when he failed?

Those might be the questions I want to grill him if I have the chance to meet him. I think I may have the answer already as everybody else does way before you read this rambling post.

You probably know it already when you watched Finding Nemo —

Just keep swimming.

So at the beginning of another gorgeous day in LA, I will breathe in and breathe out.

And write on.