Zestful Blog Post #196
Last year on my 59th birthday (and let us speak no more of such numbers), I began a journal with the intention of writing in it every day. So far, I’ve missed only about five days. Those missed days are a great lesson about happiness. You committed to do this thing; you have done it imperfectly; you can’t, today, write yesterday’s entry. You can write about yesterday, OK, good, but the past is past, and imperfection must be all right. Missed opportunities must be OK. Otherwise—what? Cut your throat? Yeah, no. Smile and go on.
In my journal last night I wrote about my midday swim. I’ve been surprised, lately, to find myself overtaking swimmers in neighboring lanes who’ve either been faster than, or about the same as me. I wrote, “Slowly, slowly, I’m getting faster.” I almost laughed aloud. Of course, ‘gradually’ would have been a better word than ‘slowly,’ but the point is this: Improvement is often so subtly incremental that you don’t notice it, especially after you reach some level of basic competence. You see where I’m going with this.
There’s a big difference between wanting to write, and banging out a complete short story. A big difference between a handful of short stories and a novel.
There’s a much smaller difference between a short story and a better short story. Or is there? What of the difference between a novel you’re grateful to have completed, and a novel the writing of which changed your life?
If you stay true to your commitment—even if imperfectly, and you will be imperfect—you may get better, but you will certainly and continually give yourself chances to get better. Yay for incremental improvement; don’t let it slip by unnoticed. Because those spaces between the small increments? That’s where the magic is.
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