A Drop of Sunshine #10
June 2023: The Art of Experimentation
Hello Dear Ones,
I hope your Junes were wonderful! Mine was filled with sunny morning walks and gorgeous afternoon thunderstorms.
Earlier this month, I sent a first draft to my CPs (critique partners), and they quickly (superhumanly quickly) returned their edit letters to me with enthusiasm, encouragement, and brainstorming gems. I’m revising in every spare moment and this story is challenging me in the best way.
Growing as a writer means trying new things. Trying new things means more frustration, more learning, and more struggling to make the words on the page align with the vision in my imagination. Which leads me to this month’s newsletter exhortation: The best moments in art (and life) come from moments of bravery, moments of experimentation, moments of embracing freedom. Great art shuns the concept of “playing it safe”. And at the end of the day, I’m more determined to make great art than I am afraid of failing. Besides, failure isn’t failure in artistic attempts. Failure is lessons learned. Nothing is ever truly wasted in the creative journey.
When revising a novel (vs drafting/creating one) it’s easy to think, “Now it’s made and I’m going to tweak it until it is perfect.” But if I resist that, I find magic in further experimentation and exploration. Thinking about perfection paralyzes me. Perfection makes me so scared of falling short that I don’t put my full self into the art. I don’t rest in the patience of the process or let the project improve at its own pace. I’m tempted to rush and spiff it up within my skill set and settle for good enough, because I’m certain I’ll fail at making my vision come fully to life. Thankfully, being aware of these pitfalls helps me avoid them. Thankfully, sheer stubborn hope keeps me brave enough to experiment. Thankfully, the encouragement from trusted writing friends spurs me out of my comfort zone and into growth.
This is my most ambitious writing project to date, and I’ve spent the last few years building the skills and tools needed to accomplish my vision. It might be a messy journey. It might take more months of revision than usual. Or maybe not. So far, it’s been easier in many ways than previous drafts. But I know that I can keep challenging myself, keep trying wacky ideas, keep experimenting until that glorious moment when all the strands that seem tangled finally (and cohesively) reveal the tapestry I’ve been stitching. And I’m blessed to have loyal, brilliant writing friends to keep me honest and setting the bar high.
As I continue to revise this summer, and push comfort zones, I challenge you to do the same. Take some risks and remember that failure is rarely permanent, so long as you keep trying. Like a recent honey shop customer in her mid-seventies told me, “Our family motto, whether things work out the way we expect or not is this: We had fun and we learned a lot.”
This summer, may we all have fun and learn a lot.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy this drop of sunshine.
Quote to Ponder:
“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” - Voltaire
What to Bake
July 4th Flag Fruit Pizza - I make this simple, festive Independence Day dessert every year. I take some creative license in honor of deliciousness and add thinly sliced kiwis between the strawberry rows… sure it makes the flag design wonky, but believe me, the kiwis elevate this dessert! I also sprinkle blueberries throughout the “flag”. Yeah, okay, upon reflection, mine doesn’t look much like a US flag… but it tastes so good I don’t care :)
What to Listen To
Wanderlust by Hollow Coves - This EP is perfect for long car rides, hammock daydreaming, star gazing, strumming around a campfire… you know, the best summer soundtrack stuff.
What to Read*
Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren - I wrote down quote after quote from this beautiful, encouraging, convicting, profound book. It's going to be a re-read contender for years to come.
Pope Francis’s Address to Artists - Sent to me by a friend, this was so lovely and encouraging. I particularly enjoyed his insights on harmony, balance, and standardization.
Question to Ponder:
Does your family have a motto? If so, I’d love to hear it in the comments below!
Ours is jokingly: If you don’t know what you’re doing, do it quickly… It has served us surprisingly well… but on a serious note, we’re always open to trying new things and if they don’t work out, not being too proud to admit it and go back to the way things were before. That’s not exactly pithy though…
Until next time, wishing you sunshiny trails,
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