“I want to write a book that people won’t forget. I want to make them take a stiff slug of booze, or go outside and look at the stars.” — Sterling Hayden, Wanderer
“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.” — Erica Jong
Damn you Mr. Harding, your words still echo in my head, almost 40 years after you read a short story I’d written about balloons, looked up and declared in front of the entire class (to my teenage horror): “Some day you’re going to be a writer.” Well, I ran from that for years, didn’t I? But living a few extra decades makes you stop worrying about what the world thinks of you, and blogging every day forces your hand and makes you actually say something. And so we become what we repeatedly do.
When you do anything with intention in this world, you want it to mean something—to resonate and shine and be timeless and unforgettable. That’s true whether you’re building a deck or writing a book. Inevitably, we’re our own worst critics and see our mistakes more clearly than others do. I still look at things I’d have done differently on my deck, and I rarely look back on previous blog posts. Who we once were is not who we are now. Apprentices learn and grow and refine their craft, and so it is with us in our work.
When do we become masters of our craft? Mastery is evasive, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t diligently do our work and inch towards it anyway. We create our best work and hope that it resonates, and then we go back to the drawing board and try to improve upon it tomorrow. Blog after blog we learn to trust ourselves and ignore the judge. And maybe in our time we’ll make something unforgettable.