Whoops, I Did it Again
I never actually set out to fail.
Whenever I start a new project or a new story I don’t ever go into it thinking, I hope I fail this time.
Nobody does that, right?
But I do seem to fail quite often. And quite early too.
Case in point: On Thursday I emailed my newsletter subscribers and asked for help. By the way, before I go any further, my newsletter peeps never fail me. Whenever I ask for something from them, they always step up to the mark and deliver. I hope I can get better at doing the same for them.
On Thursday I said to them,
‘Look, I’ve got nothing to write about on my blog this coming Sunday. I need help. And I thought, why don’t I write a story, and you guys can provide me with the opening line or two.’
They had until midday Friday and then I was going to start writing.
Like I said, I never set out with the intention to fail.
I received some great opening lines, but this was the one that intrigued me the most and I felt had the greatest potential.
‘I wish I could tell you that was the first time I woke up in the trunk of a car, without a single memory of the night before.’
After watching The Big Lebowski the week before, I think I had got myself into a film noir frame of mind, with private detectives, femme fatales and a labyrinthine plot of double crosses.
I started writing.
Confident once more in my unhindered path towards a successfully written story. No mountain peaks of difficulty for me to climb, or deepest, darkest troughs of uncertainty to trudge through. The sun was shining, the sea was calm, my path was clear, yeah, you get the message.
Well, here we are. It’s Sunday and my short story has taken on a life of its own and I’m a long way from finishing it. I’ve already trudged the valley of despair, where hidden monsters lurk and enjoy taunting me with whispered homilies, such as, ‘What did you think you were doing? There’s no way you can achieve this.’
And I’ve climbed a couple of mountain peaks of difficulties, and sometimes even thought I was about to climb high enough to see the big picture, but then realised I was simply heading for a false summit.
Ah, writing. Who said it was easy?
All right, so I’m not climbing into a metal lift everyday and sinking deep beneath the earth to hack at the coal face, like my Uncle Terence used to do.
That’s hard, uncomfortable, back-breaking, health destroying work.
So don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to get to follow my passions everyday.
But writing fiction is never easy.
Like I said, the story began to take on a life of its own. You might think this is a good thing. Sounds like it’s going to write itself, doesn’t it?
And sometimes, not often enough but sometimes, that does happen.
But not this time.
No, my story was telling me it needed to be set in the late 1960s.
And it needs to tie in with the Joe Coffin books.
Thanks a lot.
And then I find myself researching the history of boxing in Birmingham, and I’m looking at popular baby names from the 1940s, and I’m digging out my copy of Joe Coffin Season Two to check some story details, and I’m thinking, how the hell did I wind up here?
What happened to this short, fast little story?
Why do I always have to make things so involved?
Why do I always have to fail?
Although, thinking about it now, at least I got a blog post out of it, so this wasn’t a complete failure. You could in fact label it a success, seen as how that was the whole point of the exercise in the first place.
Failure is a necessary part of the journey towards success.
No, I never set out to fail when I start a new project.
But I always do my best to welcome failure with open arms in the knowledge that he is on my side and wants me to succeed.
Oh, and that story I’m supposed to be writing?
I am writing it.
And it’s going to be a corker.