Learning to Fail
Not a newsletter, just a life update.
In one of my short stories, a middle-aged character doesn’t simply want to reconnect with an old lover, fall back in love, and live happily ever after.
Too cliché, too easy, she says to me. Where’s the danger? Where’s the thrill and excitement?
She’s travelled from Nigeria to England to visit her daughter and to be an omugwo. Before her trip, she gets a Facebook message that changes everything, and soon, she’s going from somewhere on the outskirts of London to London, a city she knows nothing about. I thought that would be enough thrill for a 50-year-old who’s lived a conventional life, but it’s not. How do I tell this character that I do not have time for her? Or that I do not feel like I have the power to do her story justice? I don’t. I close the draft, open it, read the first line, cringe, close it again. Rinse and repeat.
I’m at my busiest. This doesn’t mean I’m too busy doing other things to write. On the contrary, I’m writing twice as much as I’ve written at any time. Not even during my graduate programme. I’m writing for work, writing my novel, writing stories that’ll form a compilation of short stories, planning different life things that require lots of documentation and writing. It’s a blessing and curse. A blessing because: at least you’re writing and not in some kind of rot. The rate at which my characters tell me this. A curse because I’m not satisfied at the quality of writing. I feel like I suck at it, and it’s taking me some time to see the rewards of the learning investment I put in the past year. You know how you know there’s light at the end of the tunnel but you don’t care because there’s no light right now, so you’ll despair anyway? That’s exactly where I am 😅
Taking a break from writing to you wasn’t deliberate. I have several drafts stashed away that I didn’t send because they either didn’t feel good enough or for other miscellaneous reasons. One about the duty of care editors owe to writers, another about learning to art of distributing your work as a writer, and more.
TL:DR I’m failing at my commitment to write to you as often as possible. But I’m learning to fail, and part of learning to fail is trying and trying again. I’ll be taking a step back and attempting to write one strong letter to you once a month, and if I fail at that, I’ll try again.