One of my favorite quotes comes from the most unlikely of sources: a puppet from a pop culture phenomenon. When Yoda taught (a rather whiny) Luke how to use the Force, he uttered the now infamous phrase, “Do or do not. There is no try.” As I emerge from a particularly brutal battle with my inner critic, (See My Inner Critic is Trying to Kill Me), this phrase has become my weapon of choice in shushing that vicious little voice.
Yoda’s wisdom may be the product of a cult classic, but he really does know what he’s talking about. While I have admiration for trying, it only gets you so far. If all we ever did was try, Luke’s x-wing would still be submerged in a swamp and my novel would still be stuck in rough draft mode drowning in my doubts. Somehow that rough draft turned into a final draft and it didn’t happen because I tried. It happened because I decided to “do” instead of “do not.” Yoda would be proud.
But, I find myself in a funk of figuring out what to do next and its harder to find the groove I need to move forward. I have a list of “do’s” that ranges from formatting, getting copies to some readers, and figuring out the publishing game, but it doesn’t solve the odd sense of melancholy that clouds my victory. While there is deep sense of satisfaction, there is also a profound sadness that this particular part of my journey is over. It’s time to let go and it hurts far more than I thought it would. All the time I set aside each day for this little project is now free and very empty.
The unexpected grief is beginning to wane, but only because the challenge in front of me has grown into something I can’t ignore. I’m too stubborn. The question now isn’t so much whether or not I believe my work is good, it’s more so about how ready I am to face the next step. The Luke in me is ready to fire up my lightsaber and hunt down Darth Vader, even though I haven’t finished my training. My inner critic can say no more, for my true obstacle is about letting go and moving on with a final draft that I know is good, (take that inner critic!). Meanwhile, a manuscript sits on my desk waiting for my return and I can hear Yoda whispering in his sage voice, “Do or do not. There is no try.”