Last week, Carol and I were chatting and since I had just handed off a bunch of finished items (sewn things), she was telling me what a great seamstress I was (we all need sisters, right?). It was a really nice thing to say to me, but I thought about it a long time. Because I’m not. I’m good. Only because I sew a lot. But there are so many things I don’t even attempt. They scare me. One of these days, Fran, I promise. I will put a zipper in something and get over this. I did it when I was younger, I can do it now. I just have to actually …
And that’s it … Do It.
People tell me what a great author I am. No. I’m good – I won’t take anything away from myself – I have a healthy dose of self-confidence. But I have so far to go. I’m learning all the time and I get better with every book. But I’m nowhere near what I want to be.
However, that’s not the point of this. The difference between me and anyone else – whether it’s writing or sewing, playing the piano well, singing, the list goes on and on is not that I’m so much better than you (or anyone), it’s that I’m doing it. I start … and I finish. Every time.
I make horrible mistakes – toss those out and start again, but I still finish it.
I’m not alone in this process … y’all do it every single day with the things you do well. You start and you finish. That’s what sets us apart from others. You may never be a great seamstress, but you have a glorious garden. You may never be an amazing photographer, but you teach kids all day long, even when you want to boot their butts to the principal’s office. Those things that you choose to be great at are the things that you start … and that you commit to doing … even when it’s not a lot of fun … especially when it’s hard work.
If you want to be thought of as great at anything, it isn’t about perfection or being the best; most of the time it’s about starting it and finishing it. Even those who are at the top of their fields got there because they started … and finished. Over and over again. You don’t win a weight-lifting competition by picking weights up one day, then set them down and never return. You go and go and go until you can finish a competition – whether you win or lose.
My father refused to let us quit … nearly anything. If we started it, we finished it. We stuck with things at least long enough to be absolutely sure that we were miserable. Carol played basketball in junior high. She hated it. But she stuck with it the entire season. There was no quitting. Even though I took piano lessons (for EVER), she and Jamie didn’t like it all that much. They were allowed to quit … AFTER they became competent at it. That foundation stuck with them for a lifetime. They didn’t quit after the first year. Not even the second or third. Dad often said that he was not raising quitters.
Now, to be honest, there are things that I quietly try. No one else knows that I’ve tried them if I decide it is the worst idea ever. You should try anything.
But if you want to be great at something, you not only have to try it, you have to do it. Start to finish and all of the hard work in the middle.
And yes … Yoda’s words. Do. Or do not. There is no try. Here them, you shall!
On another note – thank you all for the great words you’ve said about the latest book. When I hit the *publish* button, I go through about twenty-four hours of “Will they hate it? I know everyone loved the last book, will they like this one too? What have I done? Why am I still writing? Who am I kidding?”
Yeah … okay, it’s not even twenty-four hours because some of you read so fast, you start chattering at me before I even crawl out of bed the next morning.
By the end of the day on the 25th – each time – I’m completely drained.
This last week has been chaotic and crazy and awesome. It feels like the party started the day of the Wine & Trivia night and hasn’t ended until … about now. There are so many little things that need to be handled during that period – from final edits and formatting, to mailing prizes and making sure everyone has what they need. This week will be quiet (er) as I wait for the paperbacks to arrive. Then I dig into a few days of insanity while I sign books, pack them up and haul box after box into town to be mailed.
At some point, I’ll need to clean the house again. The cats are back to acting like they live in a frat house and race through the place not caring what they knock over or pull down. Must be the change in weather. Happy, happy cats.
Anyway … thank you, thank you! And if you haven’t seen it yet, head over to the Bellingwood Facebook page to enter to win a Sycamore House mug. We hit 3000 likes on the page and it seems we still have plenty to celebrate!