Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blog Chain: My Favorite Mistake


This round's topic was chosen by the lovely Rebecca who wanted to know:

What is the best mistake you've made so far in your journey as a writer? How has that mistake helped you grow :)? 

Well, as most of the other awesome people in our chain have mentioned, I've made them all, some of them repeatedly. One of my biggest mistakes, one I still struggle not to make again, is jumping the gun. I get a project finished and I want to send it off the same day. It is torture for me to wait until it is really ready to send out. Fortunately, I have wonderful crit partners who slap my hand away from the Send button :) But I have definitely blown more than a few awesome opportunities by sending out something that wasn't ready.

However, despite the sometimes spectacular mistakes I make, I think the worst one (or the best) was when I quit. Now, in my defense, life had thrown me a huge curve ball. My daughter was born two months early and spent the first seven weeks of her life in the hospital - which was 45 minutes away from where we lived (if there was no traffic). My husband was working 90 + hours a week at the time and we also had a two year old that needed my attention.

So, I definitely had cause to take a nice long break. But I let that break drag on for two years. I had a novel that I was a few chapters from finishing. It was my first book, and when I started it, I was totally in love with it. I couldn't wait for my son's nap time every day so I could dive back in. 

Over those two years, I thought about it often, wanted to get back to it, and then found an excuse not to. Eventually, I sat down and finished it...in just a few weeks. And I was hooked again. Have been ever since. And I'll never make that mistake again. Writing gives me something I just can't get from any other aspect of my life. It lets me escape into another world. I can exercise my brain, challenge my abilities, indulge in my love of learning and creating and reading and so many other things.

I've met incredible people, some of whom are now my closest friends. And I've become ME. Before, I was my husband's wife, my children's mother, my parents' daughter. I had degrees, I had jobs, and hobbies and friends. But I didn't know who I was yet. I was still searching for what I wanted to be when I grew up :)

When I started that first book, I got a taste of it. I got a glimpse of the person I could be, of the life I could have. And then I let other things get in the way. Important things, yes. Unavoidable things, of course. But I let it go on too long. I talked myself into believing that everything and everyone else was more important. And you know, sometimes they are. And that's okay.

But I will never make the mistake of letting YEARS go by without writing again. It's too much a part of me now. I am glad I made the mistake of giving up - because now I know what's at stake and I'll never do it again :)

What about you? What is your best mistake?

Be sure to check out the fabulous Bonny's answer before mine and stop by Shaun's blog tomorrow to find out what his best mistake is. 

17 comments:

Eric said...

This is a great post, Michelle. It's interesting what everyone on this chain goes through and considers their biggest mistake. I'm glad though, that you decided to get back into it and not let your talent be wasted.

Tamika: said...

Thanks Michele for the encouragement today. I took a brief stint away from writing during a rough period of my marriage. I was so broken, there was nothing to give. The Lord used that time to shower me with His love, and give me the peace to trust His plans for my life.

Writing is ingrained in my spirit and I thank God everyday for restoring my faith to press on with writing and my marriage.

L.T. Elliot said...

That chain is a great idea and it sounds so cool!

And hey, I've had newborn preemies and that's HARD stuff. It doesn't just end when they get out of the NICU. I'm glad you got back in and never gave it up. And look at it this way, every time you thought about it or read a book, you were building your skills. Not a waste at all.

Cole Gibsen said...

What a great post and I can totally TOTALLY relate!

Elana Johnson said...

I'm so glad you rectified that mistake, Michelle! And that I started writing at the same time. <3 ya!

Falen said...

ugh. i did that once. took a 2-3 year "break". mostly i was just burned out on my WIP and it took me that long to give myself permission to start something else

Sandra said...

I'm glad you came back to writing again! Yes, sometimes life gets so intense it drains you, but writing can help sustain you.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

I'm so glad you got back to writing! What a great post :)

Kat Harris said...

I'm glad you came back, too.

It really is hard to balance family life with writing and everything else, especially when there is a tiny baby involved.

I often remind myself that writing -- no matter how passionate I am about it -- is a secondary vocation.

Mandy said...

I jump the gun too! And it's ending badly for me more than once. And just like you, I've got crit partners talking me from the ledge. Great post! :D

Bethany Wiggins said...

My most EMBARRASSING mistake was sending off my full manuscript with a query letter at the end... addressed to another agent. So miserable.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post! It's so true we all make mistakes - and many of them are pretty big! I jumped the gun with my last ms, thankfully I only sent out 10 queries - and I got some great feedback from a few agents. It's marinating right now while I work on the other ms.

Christine Fonseca said...

I love this post...really really love it!

B.J. Anderson said...

What a beautiful mistake! Sometimes a break is the perfect thing to make us realize what we're missing. Great post, Michelle.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

You have totally nailed - the biggest writing mistake we can make is NOT WRITING. And I do this all the freaking time when I choose to let the distractions take precedence over finding time to write. Sigh, maybe someday I'll figure out a way to stop making this mistake.

Brian Keaney said...

Getting sued for libel.

Margie Gelbwasser said...

Michelle,

I have a 2.5 year old and completely relate to your post. Thanks so much for putting my feelings into words. Glad to see I'm not alone in this. Excellent post!