Letting Go of What I Can’t Control
The first week of the month we do confessions around here. (We are the Parking Lot Confessional, after all.) Here’s what’s on my mind…
I’m taking a ceramics class this semester and really enjoying learning a new artistic outlet. We started out with hand building different kinds of vessels. And we recently progressed to throwing on the wheel, which I wrote about a little on my own blog. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been glazing our bisque-fired pieces, which has been such an eye-opening experience.
There are drawers of small, round tiles in the glazing room at the ceramics studio, each showing the post-firing results of different glaze combinations. Some of them are lovely–I tend to gravitate toward the blues–and some are kind of meh. I clicked through the tiles, deciding on the best dressing for the couple of vases and bowls I had ready for glazing. When I’d made up my mind, I glazed the pieces and set them aside to be fired.
And that’s all I can do. From then on, what happens with those vases and bowls is completely out of my hands.
While in the kiln, someone else’s piece might explode and ruin everyone else’s work. Or someone’s glaze might ooze all over and run into my piece and ruin it. Or the glaze combination might come out all ooky looking instead of the pretty tile in the drawer. Any number of things could go wrong during the firing process, and there’s just nothing you can do about it.
Which might be why the glazing part of the ceramics class is my least favorite so far. It’s just so unpredictable. I’m really starting to see those parts of me that like to know what will happen, that like being in charge.
Ceramics is teaching me a lot about writing and publishing.
My debut novel, Now That You’re Here, comes out in a month. (Excuse me while I go breathe into a bag.) And if there’s one thing I’m quickly learning, it’s that there are so many things that are outside of my control.
Will people buy it? Will they like it? Will they want to read more from me?
It reminds me of what my mentor, Jim Sallis, said when his novel, Drive, was being made into a movie. Our class ask him a bunch of questions about the process, including, What if they change the story? What if you don’t like what they do? And he would always tell us the story wasn’t his anymore. Once the book is done and off to production, it no longer belongs to him. He lets it go and gets to work on the next thing.
There’s so much wisdom there.
So, here’s my confession: I’m trying to let go and get to work on the next thing. It’s very distracting having a novel coming out in a month. Sometimes I’m too wound up to write. (Or sleep.) But I’m also anxious to dig into the next thing, to write the next story. That’s the fun part, probably because it’s the part I can control.