What a spacecraft can teach us about writing

Thar she goes!

Yesterday, like many others, I was watching the NASA/SpaceX rocket launch livestream.
Despite my age, this was the first launch I followed live, as far as I remember. I found the thrill of it to exceed my every expectation, and I was nailed to the screen as I watched the count-down.
Would they have to abort? If not, would something go wrong? The suspense built with every ticking of the clock – and then they were off!

I sat wondering what it must feel like to be these astronauts at this moment. What did it feel like? What thoughts must be going through their heads?
The event held drama, it held tension, there was hope, there was resolution – all important parts of good storytelling.

Not the first

“But so what?” some might say. This isn’t the first time there’s been a manned rocket launch, and in all likeliness it won’t be the last.
And yet I, and thousands, millions maybe, of others were glued to the screen, watching it happen. Why is that?

Throughout my years of living on this rock, and more specifically in my creative work, such as writing, drawing, acting, whathaveyou, a constant nagging feeling has held me back. A little voice at the back of my head, the voice of doubt, telling me that whatever I choose to do, someone else has already done it, and have done it better than I could at that specific time. Arguments could be made that I was comparing myself to people who had spent much more time than me at whatever I was working on, and there was hence a good reason for them being better at it.
Those arguments, though logical enough, wouldn’t win the feeling over, and I would eventually drop the given project before reaching the finishing line. The truth of the matter – I still find myself doing that from time to time.

So, in writing this, I’m making as much a reminder to myself, as I’m doing it for anyone else out there, struggling with the same or similar issues. I don’t pretend to be a special little snowflake – if I struggle with something, there’s a good chance there’s someone else out there with the same problem.

The point being?

What the NASA/SpaceX rocket launch reminded me of, was that I don’t have to be the first or the best to do something, for it to be a fully functional and engaging product.
Look, I’m not saying the astronauts or anyone else involved was bad at what they do – I’m sure they weren’t. But were they the best astronauts in the history of space exploration? Were they the best ground crew ever to support the launch?
I frankly don’t know, and more importantly, I don’t care. Because I was riveted by what they did, and at the time I couldn’t care less how it stacked up against other rocket launches.

The same goes for writing, or whatever vocation you are pursuing. Even if you’re neither the first nor the best at it, you still have it in you to create something that someone out there will be riveted by. As do I (yeah, that one’s for me). As with problems and issues, if you find yourself liking something, there’s a damned good chance someone else will like it too.

So have at it, boys and girls! Go out there and create whatever it is you wish to create. Infinity truly is the only limit.

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