Patience, Too, Is a Skill

Patience is not one of my virtues. I get an idea for something and I want to make it a reality as soon as possible, and I get very frustrated when anything stands in the way.

For example, back in April I had this really excellent idea for a painting. A robot hand, rising in the distance of an alien planet. There would be a body of liquid (not necessarily water, because, hello, alien planet!), and mountains and clearly different moons and planets in near orbit. It was going to be so awesome.

This is what I came up with:

It’s flat, it’s too dark, what on earth is even happening with that hand…in other words, it’s boring and completely unlike what I had hoped for, what I had imagined, and what I had rushed to create.

After some harsh, yet constructive, criticism from my friends who are legitimate artists–and time to really ponder what they said wasn’t working–I went back to it. This time, I got much much closer to what I was working towards:

Still not perfect, not by a long shot, but a hell of a lot more interesting. There’s actually light sources now. The mountains have depths, the water has mystical, mirrored-reality properties, and what’s with the torches–who put them there and why? The hand looks less amateur-hour (although anatomy will probably always be the bane of my artistic existence).

I decided that this is a painting I could be proud to hang in my home, and so I did. The other version, I’d hidden in my closet until I knew what to do with it.

“That’s awesome, Ellis, but I come here for the juicy deets on writing and publishing,” I hear you grumble.

Aha, dear friend, that’s the point. Patience is a learned skill in publishing, just as much as it is in painting. Back in November of last year, I had a Brilliant Idea ™ for a novel. It would have parallel dimensions and murder and and corrupt politicians! It would be the Most Amazing Book I’d Ever Written.

Spoiler alert: it never got that far. Because I lacked the patience and other skills to make it come to life in a way that I could justify sending it to my agent. The ideas were too big, my skill sets too small–for now. So I trunked it. I will work on building up the skills I need to make it come to life, so that when I do write it, I can do it justice.

This is getting a bit long-winded, so I guess all I’m trying to say is: Don’t be disheartened if you have to put aside a dearly beloved project for a bit. Rushing it when you don’t have the skills/experience/knowledge to make it Absolutely Amazing will do nobody any favors. Let it breathe for a bit. A few weeks, a few months, however long you feel is necessary. Then, when you’ve learned a little bit more, try it again. Make it shine.

And don’t let anyone ever tell you that patience is not a skill like dialogue, grammar, or paintbrush techniques. It absolutely is.

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