Excerpt from Notebook

from Phone Call and Other Prose Writings (2017)

To accept that one sometimes writes badly is as much a necessity as accepting that she can write.

Until one can feel okay with writing badly, to the extent that one resolves to try to write better next time, one cannot be good. It is through taking risks that one learns, and writing badly is a sometime necessary outcome of this risk taking.

To feel one is on the edge of succeeding is sometimes a nice measure of doing good work. Sometimes one even feels one’s endeavour has failed, but success may be lurking in the work itself, unknown to the insecure writer.

Something akin to bravery is coming to rest upon you but you block it off with your inexperience. Because you’re so used to failure, so used to the limits of your art.

To be surprised by your own good work is good.

To be surprised each time you do it is a measure of humility. A measure that you take enough risks, that good work is a gift you keep accepting from some benign force who is generous. And patient. Patient with your talent sometimes wavering and rightly set in humility.

Each good work is a testament to your obedience—a listening for the word in you. So many possibilities gaining favour in you. A manifestation of your faith, your endless patience and gentle prodding.

Some day, you will write better. Some day, words will come out of you like untamed devotion. Some night, you will pray and mean to be led.

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