On false starts

Ever start a project only to find out you were doing everything wrong and you need to start over from scratch. Some times writing projects are like that–you write a page before you realize that you were on the wrong track, that you were in left-field, that you were lost. There are nights when no matter what you write, you aren’t going to like it, and it turns into a false start that you mercifully throw away the next day. False starts are strange mirages that seem real enough, but then they quickly turn to sand and flow away through your fingers. I can’t even count the times I’ve written four or five sentences, realized it wasn’t working, and thrown it away. The development of a real idea, something concrete that catches the imagination, is often a very fleeting moment, a bit of creative lightening that never strikes twice in the same spot. That lucid moment when you decide to write about love or death, war or peace, is not always or ever obvious. Often, the creative juices flow, but slowly, sometimes painfully, in the middle of the chaos of a regular day, hidden within the mundane noise of everyday routine. That one great idea–a mere fragment of an idea that pops up in a lecture, a reading, a song, a newspaper headline–does not announce itself as a great idea. I use my false starts to weed out the vegetable patch and find that one clear idea that is yearning to be developed into something elegant, more elaborate, more complex. But the false starts fall into the gutter like autumn leaves, brown and gray, having served a purpose, now discarded, turning slowly to dust.