because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Monday, 16 April 2018

Your story is not ready for you to worry about yet


I teach creative writing, and often what happens is that my students repeat my words back to me and I don't understand that it was me who said them first and it's a headfuck.

I love teaching. I love communicating knowledge and I love using my skill with words to package information in a way that lands with the other person. I sort of took it upon myself, at the end of last year, to help one of the girls I used to nanny with her 11+ because I could so clearly identify where her boldest missteps were and part of me thought maybe I am interfering too much and then her mother cancelled her tutor and asked me to come over instead and you know what? She aced the exam and I know I played a part in that. After, when she called me to tell me how good she felt about what she'd done, I cried. She's working on a novel and she FaceTimed me on Easter Sunday from a walk on the Devon coast to show me some goat poo. That child reminds me to be love. Some people have commented that in my second book it is this middle child I talk about with most affection, out of the the three there are. It isn't that I like her the most so much as she is the one I had to work hardest with to have a relationship. She taught me I am more patient than I imagined and fairer than I thought and that sometimes you just need to be quiet and sit side-by-side to colour in. Not everything needs words. Imagine being the 11-year old to teach a career writer that.

Anyway, I teach creative writing (I don't. I teach confidence, mostly. I teach kindness and self-love and worth) and my students repeat words back to me and last week a student said, "Your story is not ready for you to worry about yet" and when I realised she was quoting me back at me I thought well damn if that isn't smart, LJ.

(I desperately want to be called LJ, but nobody will do it. I petitioned to be known as LJ for my 30th birthday present and still, two years in, they call me Laura.)

Your story isn't ready for you to worry about yet. I said it within the context of: just get down your draft. I was telling them not to self-censor or proofread as they go or worry about what their sister will think - that comes later. For now, do the work. Put on your blinkers and do what you can in the time that you have and be single-minded and fill the page because you can't edit an empty word document.

Make a mess, then tidy it up.

Be imperfect.

In the fire, what you get is... the fire. You have to live it. Lately I've been doing the maths of mortgages and deposits and when-can-I-have-my-own-family and why-is-everyone-who-achieves-still-only-25 and I desperately wish we'd stop calling pretty Instagrammers influencers and start calling them peer-to-peer marketeers not only because that rhymes because they get paid to sell us stuff and I'm fucking sick of feeling like I have to buy another pair of sunglasses to be relevant and current as a human.

I'm veering off track. See? I need to focus on myself a little more. On what is in front of me. I need to do the work of being here, and now, and live the middle of my days without worrying what comes at the end. I know this isn't a dress rehearsal, but also, I'm not particularly interested in getting it all right on my first go and that means getting messy with the doing. I think. What I'm saying is, I worry a lot. 

I say I want to make a mess and tidy up the edges later but I get paralysed with fear that everyone else is doing it better, the first time, and then somebody says the thing I once said myself and that is that your story is not ready for you to worry about yet. So I take a breath and tell myself I'm doing fine. The time to worry isn't now. Now is the time for doing, and trying. I just need to keep going, and do it with the faith that I'll figure out the details as I go. 




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hey, I'm running a really cool London event on April 28th to remind us that none of us is fucking up like we think we are. you can read about it here.
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