Happy Accidents and Embracing the Disaster

Isn’t it always the way that when you create something you’re proud of, the universe steps in and finds a way of snatching it away? That lost sketch from college, the hand-made birthday card that must have fallen out of your bag when you went to get out your purse for the bus, or the blog that mysteriously disappeared into the vapour…

I’ve suffered one such loss so far this year, and that was my blog site vanishing – pop! – overnight. I’d written several long posts into which I’d put a lot of creative energy and time, and received a lot of positive feedback and comments from friends and peers. The words and the sentiment of these posts meant a lot to me, and now I’ll never get them back. I’ve mourned them now, and though still grieving somewhat for those lost words, I’m preparing my relaunch into the blogosphere in my turbo-powered starship of joy and sadness and wonder. Not to overegg it or anything.

When I was in art college, back in my late teens, I had a tutor whose catchphrase was ‘happy accidents’. By this, he meant all those times you lost a favoured creation and had to start again from scratch, only to create something more authentic and original next time around, or spilling drawing ink all over the intricate illustration you’d spent a month on, only to find a way to incorporate the accident into the artpiece itself. When I was studying creative writing at university in my mid-twenties, I had another tutor, and his catchphrase was ’embrace the disaster’. When he spoke about embracing the disaster, he meant that I should look to all the obstacles and stressors keeping me back from creating, and harness them as the material for the creation itself. “You lost your blog and all your writing? You’re in despair? Write about it.” And he was right. When you embrace the disaster, whatever it may be, you make it part of yourself and become its master. That tutor’s advice has been my mantra ever since, both on- and off-page.

I’ve always suffered from erratic moods: a neurotic, depressive, highly strung demeanour. During the time I was studying for my Masters, it came in like a wrecking ball, and threatened to stop me writing, full stop. I went to my tutor and explained how I could barely drag myself from off the floor, and that all I could manage to write was self-indulgent, miserable shit. I’d have a good day and charge into a new interest or research angle for a creative piece, only to wake up the next day completely disinterested in the work I’d done. I filled up notebooks and notebooks with self-hate and paranoid delusions and bitter diatribes. My lack of focus, and impending deadlines, were making me a nervous wreck, prone to crippling anxiety attacks on a weekly basis. But in the sweet, musty cocoon of my tutor’s book-filled study, he reiterated the mantra. Embrace the disaster, he told me, patiently, knowing well he’d told me at least a dozen times before. And so, I did. I found all the little fragments of shattered promise scattered throughout the pages of my manic notebooks, and I pieced them together and found the story. It was not my story anymore. By taking all those shards of pain and rearranging them, sewing them carefully together in the right order, someone else was born. A happy accident, hiding in the pages of my most downhearted days.

I began this year high on the idea that I’d document One Hundred Happy Days, an online trend for blogging about the places we find happiness from day to day. Sometimes, those things are hard to come by, but I persisted, and found joy waiting in the disasters around every turn. Life, for me at least, is always a disaster because I’m erratic, and I charge and spin my way through days like a hurricane, a writer trying to narrow herself down to being just one person. Sometimes it gets me down that I cannot seem to be more stable, more unified or tamed, but so long as I can embrace the disaster that I am, and understand that my life is made up of a million happy accidents strung together to make my story, I can rise above the gloom, and carry on creating…

Writing in response to 1000 WORDS on the subject of creativity.


9 thoughts on “Happy Accidents and Embracing the Disaster

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