Hide it under a bushel Oh no! I'm going to let it shine, let it Shine, all the time, let it shine, oh yeah! -- Harry Dixon Loes
Revelations. I love them. I had one this morning, thanks to The Boss, Bruce Springsteen...
Okay, so he's got nothing to do with this post, but I like him. So there.
On my way to work this morning, I got all caught up with Springsteen's Live From Dublin CD, particularly with his version of This Little Light of Mine. Yes, you know the song, the one you've known since you were a kid.
Well, this morning, the lyrics hit me. Restored me, if you will. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine! And I decided. I AM going to let my little light shine. It's a good light, and I'm tired of hiding it under a bushel.
The light? My writing, my writing process, my speed of writing, my...well, everything.
All along I've kind of whined about feeling inadequate in the shadows of other authors who I feel are far superior to me. Over time, I've finally embraced the fact that they are not necessarily superior (okay, yes, some of them are), they are just different.
I strive to remain humble. And why shouldn't I? I've no reason, really, to be proud to the point of being arrogant. But, on the same token, I think an author SHOULD have a certain degree of pride in what they do. After all, Mark Twain said, There's a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off. - "The Esquimau Maiden's Romance" Yes, there's a difference between a false modesty when you SHOULD indeed be proud and just...being proud of your work.
I'm learning to appreciate my talent. It IS a talent, a gift, and I suppose it would be ungrateful to dishonor it by not acknowledging it. I've a long way to go, but---hey---I'm not so bad.
One thing about me, though. Me, the author. I am slow. Slow, slow, slow. I'm a pair of legs trudging uphill against a mighty tide of mud. Slow. S-l-o-w. I don't apologize for that. It's just the way it is. It's not laziness, it's just hard for me to write when my mind is tired, when my word reserves are simply empty.
An author friend of mine, in her effort to urge me on, challenged me to try to write at least fifty words a day, no matter what. Just fifty.
I loved the freedom that gave me, to do something. I found it usually turned into more words than the proposed fifty. I loved that. I even posted my progress---if I had any---every day on my Facebook. Sometimes it was just those fifty words, sometimes more. But, hell, I took great pride in even those few words. Because they came hard for me. Do NOT get me wrong. They may have squeezed through like the Goodyear Blimp pushing through the Holland Tunnel, but the were GOOD words. Quality words.
Well, someone teased me about my teeny goal. Mocked it, if you will. Insinuated, I think, it was a bit lazy of me.
I began to doubt myself. Okay, author lady, all these other people can write faster. So...could it just be that you ARE lazy? That you need to get off your writer ass and work harder? Words, words, more words!
I subconsciously begin to feel inadequate up next those who could write faster. Not better, but faster. I stressed. Big time. Here came those inadequate feelings again.
Somehow, I fell into an almost fatal trap: the trap of measuring my writing worth on how fast I could write, on wordage. I realized I was confusing the term wordage with WORDS.
And I saw that little light. It is...the words. Not how many, not how fast, not how few...but...simply...words. The right words, the words to tell my story. One word, two words, a billion words. As long as they tell my tale and tell it right and beautiful, there are enough of them and they are fast enough.
It's not the speed of my telling of the story that makes it or breaks it, it is nothing but the words themselves. No matter how they make it to the page.
So, to my friend who offered me the challenge, who KNEW this when I didn't know it, thank you for prompting me to those fifty precious words a day.
I feel all right now. I'll never, never, never complain again about how slow I am. I will never look at my poky, painful writing process as a fault. It is not. It's exactly as it should be. The product is what matters. And, by golly, I'm getting there as an author, I'm a little proud of what I've accomplished.
And I'm going to let my little light shine. Every day. Every damn day.
Oh, and, hey. You've just GOT to listen to The Boss' version of This Little Light of Mine. It'll make you feel awfully good.