Besting My Brooding

I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. ~ Mark Twain

Last week I had a shot at an amazing opportunity. To take it, I had to get some work together and make it the best it could be. Writing is an art. As such, it’s subjective. The artist can believe it’s a fantastic work, when in fact it’s really garbage, and she can hate something that’s pure gold. So whenever we writers seek to send a piece of work out, we first send it to other writers to get their opinion on it. So I did. And I waited. Anxiously.

I’m usually quite confident in my work, but this opportunity was so important to me, I began to second-guess myself. My friend sent me back a critique – a really good one. She told me what she liked and what she’d like to see more of, and she told me about my — let’s take a page from my old job and call them “opportunities for improvement.”

I read the critique on Friday night. I had purposely left my work alone when I finished editing that morning, and planned to pick it back up on Monday, just to get some distance from it, so I could read it more objectively. Reading the critique on Friday was my first mistake. I kept my vow to stay away from the manuscript but now I had a whole host of things to think about. It was a really good critique, and I agreed with her points. She identified my weak spots and appreciated my strong spots, but all I could envision was failing. I wasn’t sure I could deliver what she suggested.

All weekend, I worried. I worried that my best wouldn’t be good enough. I worried that I couldn’t develop the parts she suggested. I worried that if I didn’t, my opportunity would go “poof” and be gone.

For one night and two days, fear blossomed in my mind. And Monday, I sat down to fix the manuscript. I marked it up with my red pen and started a rewrite. As I added pieces and developed my narrative, something happened. I realized that it wasn’t so hard. I realized that I’d had this ability all along. And I realized that I had made the work exponentially better.

I’m not typically a worrier (see “Different Colored Glasses”), but when I do indulge, worrying is an attempt to gain control where I feel I have none. So worrying about something I have complete control over was new to me. I don’t think that my best efforts have ever been tested like this. What I know now that I needed to know then is that my best is all I can do, and whether or not I’m successful, it’s always good enough.