Saturday, October 8, 2011

Failure Floats

Sinkers and Floaters.

This summer we made an entire fleet 
of homemade boats.
We wanted to see which would be the most seaworthy.

If you're an artist or writer, you may be able to relate.

How do you view what you've made - 

as experiments, 
or tiny pieces of your soul?

Too often as a writer, 
I send out tiny pieces of my soul I like to call 

My manuscript souls wobble out into the blue -

some of them proud and brave, 
others nervously checking their rigging,
desperate to sail smooth waters.

But when those manuscript soul pieces,
(dare I call them horocruxes?)
hit bad seas 
or... or...


I keel over.
Much like my tin can boat. 
It didn't even float for one second. Oops. 
I guess I shouldn't have cut that gaping hole in the side.

How much better would it be 

to think of what I produce
as experiments in progress,

to play more,
to laugh
and take myself with a pinch of salt. or saltwater.

Tiny pistachio shell fairy boats.

Egg carton boats.

Paper boats. 
(It helped to dip them in wax so they didn't turn to putty in water.)

We made extras for school friends, 
complete with pencil masts 
and goldfish crackers.

Woven stick and string rafts.

After days of preparation for our regatta, 
the kids scrapped the boats altogether.

There's some kind of lesson in this. I just know it. 

Maybe the moral is that it's good to diversify. 

Work on more than one creation at a time
so that if one sinks, 
or gets critiqued, or rejected,
you don't jump overboard in devastation

or, maybe the moral 
is just to

give yourself a little breathing room.

Splash a little. 
Sink a little. 
We all fail. 
But we live, too. 
We have only so much time on this planet. 
It should be a joyful sailing, right?

Book Love:

Toy Boat, by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Loren Long

If you have not seen this book, you simply must. 
Loren Long's illustrations are smooth and stunning,
Randall de Seve's writing is succinct and powerful. 
This book gives me happy chills.
It's "The Little Engine That Could" for a new generation. 


Jan Morrison said...

Oh Faith! My heart leapt when I saw you'd posted - and I love this post - this worthy vessel of your wonderful ideas and soul. The photos of your valiant creators and their willingness to capture the fun of any moment - even if it isn't the fun imagined - is a great lesson to us all. I'm dab in the middle of revisions - it is hard for me to imagine the boat of this manuscript even being a vessel at all - I'm too much in the middle of it. But it will be - and you know what they say about boats - 'they are safest in harbour but that isn't what they were built for.'
See you later, dear person.

Kjersten said...

I love this post, Faith! Those manuscripts do indeed feel like Horcruxes sometimes. And when they don't float, it can certainly feel like a lot more than the paper boat is sinking. I love the photos you've posted here, my favorite is the raft. Thank you for this.

Words A Day said...

A beautiful post, I feel happier and more thoughtful after reading it:)

And I love those little pistachio boats...

Stacy Post said...

What a wonderful time and what a lovely and apt comparison. I'll be thinking about all sorts of boats today...and wondering just how far a pistachio boat could travel. Thank you!

Faith Pray said...

Jan, you know how happy I am when I hear from you! I too, am in the boatyard, welding away at story revisions. I look forward to hearing all about what comes of yours!

Kjersten and Niamh, thank you! It's fun to be back in blog land with you!

Stacy, the pistachio boat travels as far as a one-inch fairy needs to sail, but not quickly!


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