On Hard Work

Greetings friends!

Sorry I’ve been sporadic on the blog–working to two deadlines has me a little frazzled right now….and edits should be coming back from the editor on a third project soon. So much to do, not enough hours in the day.

That frazzled state of mind led me to think about hard work, and the value in that. My kids are fairly typical middle schoolers–they like doing their thing, and don’t like doing whatever it is I need them to do (i.e. dishes, taking out the trash, bringing their laundry down to be sorted, etc). Just when I wonder what kind of little monsters I’m raising, we get a report card that’s exemplary, or praise from a youth leader/friend’s parent/band director that they’re polite, hard working, and empathetic.

And I think, wait, you’re talking about my kids? The ones who left dishes undone for two days, forgot their permission slips, and just argued with each other over the TV?

Then my daughter nails her first clarinet solo, even though she had to pause and start a section over because she got lost. Her little fingers shook all over the keys, but she played it beautifully.

Or my son comes home from Scout Camporee a brand new member of Order of the Arrow. And this same 8th grader wrangled two very trying young scouts all weekend, trying to teach them some responsibility and humility.

Where did these kids come from?

If I think about it though, my husband and I have drilled two points home, either by word or deed, their entire lives. One is being generally polite (which has led the boy to hold the door open for twenty or thirty people at a busy restaurant), and the other is to work hard. It doesn’t matter what it is: day job, instrument, hobby, passion. If you’re going to do it, do it well.  And to do something well takes time, patience, and practice. All of us still work on these skills (I have some trouble with that patience thing), but there’s some value in the struggle, too.

All that said, if you’re a writer, I imagine a little bit of this resonated. When you first start, it’s an obsession–you’re creating. It’s magical, wonderful. Then you realize, huh, to make this better, I really have to work at it. My beautiful creation wasn’t perfect out of the gate. Guess what–a lot of people stop there. Or they get halfway started and quit. What’s the difference between a published author and the beginners? Hours. Lots of them. A willingness to take criticism and bend your protectiveness of those words to your will. The bravery to kill darlings. And the courage to send that manuscript out, knowing it might be rejected.

And more, being willing to try again after you’re rejected. Because it’s likely you will be. More than once.

There’s value in the struggle.

So, when it’s eleven pm, you’re tired, and you have a deadline, know that there are others of us out there, pushing through. Maybe on other types of art, maybe caring for a cranky baby with an ear infection, or maybe staring at that blinking cursor, hoping the words will come.  We’re not alone.

And all it takes is some hard work. Hang tough my friends.

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