A writer's worst fear

Giving thanks for a fiasco


Tijn Touber | December 2005 issue

While waiting for an airplane flight, I put the finishing touches on an article I had been working on for a week. I packed away my laptop feeling satisfied. Boy that felt good. Now I could get some sleep on the plane.

A couple of hours later I woke up with an irresistible urge to change just one last thing in the story. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I started up my computer, opened the document and…nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Impossible! I panicked. The deadline for the story was that day. How? What? Help!

Looking concerned, the flight attendant asked if I wanted anything to drink.

Once we landed I contacted the Apple Computer helpdesk. “No sir, I’m afraid your worst fears are correct,” a staffer said. “The text is gone.”

“But,” I cried, “that’s completely impossible! The deadline is today! Now! Isn’t there anyone at your department who can recover it? It must be somewhere in cyberspace?”

Silence.

“Right?” I asked.

The man expressed his deepest sympathy and hung up.

I felt powerless. I will never be able to write it that well again, I thought. The perfect sequence, those subtle transitions, lovely phrasing, powerful introduction, moving ending and that headline… What was the headline again? And how did I write that moving ending? That’s all I could think about the rest of the day; I couldn’t even gather the courage to sit down at the computer.

Then I suddenly thought: This is my chance to put an end to all that work-related stress once and for all—to overcome that panic about meeting deadlines, the fear of failure, the tension of always trying to do my best. For whom? For what?

The next morning I got up, did a little yoga, meditated, looked at the ocean, laughed at the seagulls and asked God and the angels for help, a miracle. Six hours later I had finished the piece. It was better, more honest, more real and in fact had more energy than the first version.

Interestingly, the story was about the importance of intention: the idea that it’s not what you do so much as how you do it. If I write a good article but do it from a place of stress or panic or a need to prove myself, how does it come across to the reader? Exactly: filled with stress, panic and ego. This was all spelled out for me, but at first I didn’t get it!

And when you do get it, life becomes a lot easier. Looking back, I’m glad I “accidentally” deleted my article and saw how I could do my work differently. Now I don’t feel pressure to write any more exquisitely amazing stories, or deliver dazzlingly interesting lectures or even compose fabulous songs. I simply need to bring an awareness to what I do—a goal of authenticity and truth, not some impossible standard of greatness. The rest will then follow.

Solution News Source

A writer's worst fear

Giving thanks for a fiasco


Tijn Touber | December 2005 issue

While waiting for an airplane flight, I put the finishing touches on an article I had been working on for a week. I packed away my laptop feeling satisfied. Boy that felt good. Now I could get some sleep on the plane.

A couple of hours later I woke up with an irresistible urge to change just one last thing in the story. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I started up my computer, opened the document and…nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Impossible! I panicked. The deadline for the story was that day. How? What? Help!

Looking concerned, the flight attendant asked if I wanted anything to drink.

Once we landed I contacted the Apple Computer helpdesk. “No sir, I’m afraid your worst fears are correct,” a staffer said. “The text is gone.”

“But,” I cried, “that’s completely impossible! The deadline is today! Now! Isn’t there anyone at your department who can recover it? It must be somewhere in cyberspace?”

Silence.

“Right?” I asked.

The man expressed his deepest sympathy and hung up.

I felt powerless. I will never be able to write it that well again, I thought. The perfect sequence, those subtle transitions, lovely phrasing, powerful introduction, moving ending and that headline… What was the headline again? And how did I write that moving ending? That’s all I could think about the rest of the day; I couldn’t even gather the courage to sit down at the computer.

Then I suddenly thought: This is my chance to put an end to all that work-related stress once and for all—to overcome that panic about meeting deadlines, the fear of failure, the tension of always trying to do my best. For whom? For what?

The next morning I got up, did a little yoga, meditated, looked at the ocean, laughed at the seagulls and asked God and the angels for help, a miracle. Six hours later I had finished the piece. It was better, more honest, more real and in fact had more energy than the first version.

Interestingly, the story was about the importance of intention: the idea that it’s not what you do so much as how you do it. If I write a good article but do it from a place of stress or panic or a need to prove myself, how does it come across to the reader? Exactly: filled with stress, panic and ego. This was all spelled out for me, but at first I didn’t get it!

And when you do get it, life becomes a lot easier. Looking back, I’m glad I “accidentally” deleted my article and saw how I could do my work differently. Now I don’t feel pressure to write any more exquisitely amazing stories, or deliver dazzlingly interesting lectures or even compose fabulous songs. I simply need to bring an awareness to what I do—a goal of authenticity and truth, not some impossible standard of greatness. The rest will then follow.

Solution News Source

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