Monday was the worst day I’ve had in a long time. After I hit my alarm clock, I laid back down, pulling the covers over my head, refusing to venture out.
I don’t want to go to work. Maybe I can call in sick.
I wasn’t sick. I just had a bad case of dread.
I had an important deadline to meet, and I had a bad feeling that I wasn’t going to make it, despite my best efforts. From Thursday to Sunday, I had tried to write the piece on five separate occasions. The results? Twelve sentences, half of which were cliché-laden. Some were pretty okay. Others sucked. But worse, nothing was clicking. I brainstormed idea after idea, changing approaches and playing with tone. In the end, though, false leads were my only leads.
As Sunday night neared, I knew that I was going to have to call the show’s director and tell her that I had nothing. Again. I had missed my original Saturday morning deadline, asking for more time. I dreaded having to tell her that I had nothing to give her, nothing to present to the composers and the choreographers who were gathering the following day to put music and dance to my words. It was worse than any scenario a horror writer could have dreamed up for me. It felt as if I was in a living nightmare—one that I had self-produced.
I had given my friend an enthusiastic “yes!” when she had asked me if I wanted to perform spoken word as the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I had viewed the sketches of the hall before it was built in downtown Los Angeles. It was an architectural feat, rivaled only by its masterful musicians. The idea of performing there had been too tempting to pass up.
But now, I was wishing that I had given an enthusiastic, "no!" So I pulled the covers over my head, convinced that if I didn’t start the day, I wouldn’t have to face impending failure. Slowly, I peeled myself out of bed and sat on my chair to pray. I cried. I told God that I didn’t want to fail. I asked for some sort of inspiration, again.
Maybe this time He would provide some?
Then something said, “It’s okay”.
I asked God to help me believe that.
At work, I tried not to think about the project too much. I just prayed that God would enable me to be okay with whatever the outcome.
Once back at home, I grabbed my laptop, said a little prayer, and began looking over my notes. I had allotted myself one and a half hours to complete the piece. I knew that if it didn’t come during that time, then it wasn’t gonna come. I stared at the words, but it felt like they just stared right back at me.
I waited to feel the inspiration that comes when I write. I waited for a feeling, or an image, or a string of words. I waited, but nothing came. I sat for twenty minutes. And then another twenty. And then I cried. Again.
I could have remained there another fifty minutes, but I knew that my problem couldn’t be fixed with time. I had nothing, and nothing was going to come. I had known it all day. I had a date with failure, and I was out of rain checks.
I would have to tell my friend and the director that I had failed, and that I was a spoken word artist with nothing to say.
Tears fell on my laptop as I typed an email to the director, detailing my failed attempts. I was slightly embarrassed, but was too tired and spent to be completely embarrassed. I had done my best, and for the very first time my best was nothing.
Never before had I missed an important deadline. Never before had I been unable to deliver on command. But surprisingly, the cloud of mini-depression that had been hanging over my head the entire weekend was gone because I knew that it was alright. I had tried, and failed. And tried, and failed. Received help, and tried, and failed. I did all that I knew to do, and I fell short. It felt awful, but Monday was the first step in knowing that it really is okay.