Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Mistakes? Or Stepping Stones?

with 5 comments

Folks, have you ever wondered if mistakes are merely stepping stones?

And the worse the mistake, the bigger the stepping stone?

I know most of us (myself included) tend to think a mistake is a life-altering event that you can’t go back from. You’re not the same person as before you made the mistake, and you don’t know what you’re going to do. Sometimes you don’t have any good choices, and that’s frustrating in the extreme.

But I’m here to tell you that I’ve rebounded from most of my past mistakes. They did turn out to be stepping stones, though I didn’t necessarily know that at the time. And I learned from them, and became a more informed person (if not always a wiser one).

Consider that when you write, sometimes you have to tear up a whole chapter, maybe even start over ten or fifteen or more times before you get a sentence right. (Or a paragraph, or a story, etc.) A start is just that: a start. It doesn’t have to lead where you think it’s going to lead, not and still be worthwhile to you.

Life is like that, too.

If you’d have told me after I fought so hard to get my two college degrees in music that I’d end up as an independent writer and editor, I’d probably have looked at you like you had two heads. I’d planned my whole life to be a performing musician, and to teach music. That’s what I wanted to do from the time I turned ten years old, and I worked really hard to do just that.

But life threw me a few curveballs, and so, here I am.

And as my character Bruno says (in the as-yet unpublished AN ELFY ABROAD), “I am who I am. I refuse to apologize for it.”

My mistakes did turn out to be stepping stones, for the most part. The ruins of my first two marriages were necessary so I could find the right guy, at long last, and build a strong and sturdy marriage that satisfied me in all senses. (That it ended too soon, because he died too young, is not Michael’s fault. Nor mine, but I digress.) And my hands not allowing me to become the musician I had dreamed of becoming turned my creativity in an alternate direction.

Maybe, had I not gone in this direction, I wouldn’t know the writers, editors, and yes, the musicians I know now. Maybe, just maybe, I’d not have learned as much about life either.

And I can’t be unhappy with any of that, even though my life in a lot of ways didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.

(Maybe it’s the same with you.)

Anyway, just the thought that your mistakes might someday turn out to be stepping stones may do you some good today. Because mistakes aren’t always as bad as they seem. They often can lead to good outcomes, even if you can’t see it now; even if it makes no sense; and even if you have to fight like Hell to get there.

For one moment, try to step outside yourself and treat yourself the way you’d treat your best friend. Be kind, be compassionate, and give yourself a break.

That way, you can accept what comes, and keep fighting.

For a creative person (writer, musician, editor, or what-you-will), that’s the only way to live.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 10, 2017 at 4:52 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Yes. Indeed, mistakes are definitely stepping stones. I agree with you. I know my mistakes have made me stronger because I choose to learn from each of them. It’s a choice.


    July 10, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    • We have to try to learn from them. If we don’t, we’re missing out on the big picture. (Or at least a few interesting little ones, here and there.)

      Thanks for stopping by and reading! (A blog for a blog? ;-))

      Barb Caffrey

      July 11, 2017 at 3:25 am

  2. Awesome post, Barb! I agree that mistakes are stepping stones! But rather than thinking of them as “mistakes”, I prefer to think of them as “decisions that were right at the time but not today” because we change over time. 😀

    Here’s a mini-story; over 12 years ago as a teenager / young adult, I posted my first completed original novel on a free story website (under a pseudonym) and received an email offering to publish it. I declined, mostly because I wasn’t ready for publication and felt my writing wasn’t up to par yet, partly because I’m wary about emails from a stranger and wondering if it was a hoax. I could think of that as a mistake; if I had agreed then, I could have been a full-fledged published writer by now!

    But on the flip side, I made the decision that was right for me at that time. Actually that decision is still partly right now, because my 30-year-old self agrees that my 18-year-old self’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. 😆


    July 12, 2017 at 11:49 pm

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