Nothing is Ever Wasted

Over the years I’ve adopted the mantra, ‘Nothing is ever wasted’.

I’m not a spiritual, uber positive guru. In fact, this became the tag line to my life because of the crappiest of events.

Writers learn never to waste anything. Every opportunity in life is a potential plot line.

That’s not to say we wish bad things upon ourselves. I’d rather not have seen depression, deaths, and heartache last year. But I have gained the life experience. I can let the pain kill me or I can defeat it but using it for good.

The Bad Times Don’t Mean Time is Wasted

It takes time to heal and recover to be able to say that the worst of times were not wasted time. For some parts of my life I’m not there yet. However, I can see aspects of the past that were so incredibly raw back then, now transcend to life and writing lessons.

I can write about depression because I’ve swum with it and almost drowned under the dark tide. It’s harder to write about when I’m in it. Within a depressive episode I can barely function. My life and future feel like they’re being wasted.

I’ve written about it whilst in it before. See A Thief Named Depression

It was tough but I can now see that depression did not waste me. I wrote against it.

My mum’s decline due to cancer and her death are recent memories. I will never see the time I spent with her after her terminal diagnosis as wasted.

We used each day to the best of our abilities. Knowing she would be no longer with us made the time spent together precious. To be honest there was pressure to try to make time not be wasted. It was when we were just being ourselves and not trying too hard that the time was beautifully spent.

One day I hope that I can help others who have to watch and wait as a loved one faces death. Today is not the day but I know it will not be wasted. I owe my mum that.

Wasted Time is Never Wasted

Nothing is Ever Wasted - Say Yes to the DressConfession time: I get addicted to some truly brain dead television sometimes.

I  sneer at others who love reality TV and think myself superior. I am no better.

My life has currently fallen into a sink hole because of ‘Say Yes to the Dress’. I am cringing with shame as I write this.

I’m married. I don’t need a wedding dress and yet I have to watch women I don’t know try on a shitload of dresses.

I love the drama. I laugh as they try on what looks like toilet roll covers – ‘70s and ‘80s kids will understand.

My eyes widen at bitchy bridesmaids who slag off their bride friend’s body.

I want to hate Randy, the clichéd camp fella who always makes a dress look better by sticking a veil on a bride’s bonce. He’s bewitched me, damn him.

Monte is my new hero. Not the bloke from Del Monte, by the way.

But hey, this time watching back-to-back episodes isn’t wasted. I’m writing this blog post as I’m watching it. So I’ve learnt I can multi-task (yes, I’m reaching a little).

If I ever want to write about a woman wedding dress shopping, I will have all the knowledge.

I have a plethora of characters stored away: overbearing mother-in-law, disgruntled step mother, opinionated mother, reluctant groom, indecisive bride, the lot. None of this is wasted.

This section was basically a set of excuses for not working on the novel since I’ve discovered this programme. We didn’t have the internet for a month. I was stuck with broadcast TV. Blame my rubbish internet provider.

Mistakes Are Never Wasted

Nothing is Ever Wasted - Ex BoyfriendI’m in my 40s and I’ve amassed enough mistakes to build that stairway to Heaven.

The recent ones feel icky. Past ones occasionally haunt me or make me want to die a little inside. Many make me laugh. None are wasted.

Every single loser I allowed to be my partner was not wasted. Well, actually one of them was perpetually wasted which is why he’s an ex. Moving on…

Every single relationship mistake taught me what I didn’t want in partner. I learnt the hard way  but it got me to where I am now; married to the best man in the world. He was worth me having to kiss and wanting to kill a few frogs. Don’t check under any patios where I’ve previously lived. Nothing to see there…

I’ve done some spectacularly shitty jobs. I’ve been a cleaner, a checkout assistant, an estate agent… Each rubbish job led me here.

Apparently people like to read in novels about characters’ work lives. Weird isn’t it?  You’d think we’d want to escape at the end of the working day.

I have a theory that we want to read how hard others are finding it. We need to know we’re not the only ones struggling with the 9 to 5.

I’d gone through a ridiculous amount of jobs before I became a teacher. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I’m glad I’ve got the experience. I can write about them. They’re already featuring in my writing.

I’m no longer a teacher. That paved the way to writing (long story). I’m now a full-time writer. I’m blessed and I love my job every day, even when I want to throw my novel out the window. Every job that went before has shown me where I am meant to be. Nothing was wasted.

It May Not Work Now But it’s Never Wasted

Writers have a ‘Death Pile’. It’s where all pieces of writing we cannot use or that seem illiterate go to die.

Nothing is Ever Wasted - Writing CrapWriters are hoarders. Unless we’re masochists, we tend to keep all those little bits for a rainy day.

As I delete portions of my novel in the drafting process I’ve learnt to keep it in another file. It may seem like unbelievable gumph right now but one day I might be able to use it.

I still cannot face my first novel. I peeked at it recently and wanted to bury the evidence. It was a horror.

Bless my heart, I thought it was pretty good once. Was the time writing it wasted? Never.

I made my mistakes writing it. I learnt how to write (and not). I became a writer because of it.

I sat down each day to write and made it a job as well as my passion.

I learnt how to create acts, scenes, and chapters. I worked on dialogue. I acquired new skills and honed current ones.

Would I let you read that novel right now? No way. I’d rather gouge my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon. But I’m grateful for it.

I may revise and edit it one day. The foundations are there. It shaped me. It was not wasted.

Nothing is Ever Wasted

Live by this mantra and watch things change.

Even procrastination on social media can be time not wasted. If your plot line involves a Facebook revelation or a series of tweets, you are the expert.

However, if your novel still isn’t written five years later but your Instagram feed is buzzing, maybe have a word with yourself.

I’m off. There’s a bride on the TV about to make the epic mistake of buying a mermaid dress instead of the princess one. You just don’t understand how serious this is *refuses to accept that the next half hour is going to be wasted*.

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.

6 comments on “Nothing is Ever Wasted

  1. Great article Lisa. Confucius – “Out greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” You have learned that truth and it has shaped into the insightful, talented writer you are. You are in good company – Churchill, C.S. Lewis, come to mind.

    1. I love that quote from Confucius.

      Thank you for the high praise. To be mentioned in the same sentence as such literary greats is humbling.

      I’m pleased my post resonated with you. Thank you for commenting.

  2. I love this – especially about writing never being wasted. I have piles of notebooks and stacks of unopened files that make me cringe even when I see the titles, but it’s all learning. ALL of life is learning.

    Oh, and I’m currently hooked on a children’s TV show about trolls because research. Also it’s hilarious, but that’s just beside the fact.

    1. I keep reminding myself that those old pieces of writing will eventually turn into gold. My optimism scares me.

      Thanks for the appreciation. Now reward yourself with The Moomins. For research only, of course.

  3. A great post Lisa and so well timed. I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve wasted so much time writing my book only to want to change a lot of it, that I wonder if my initial time was well spent or wasted. Reading this has helped me to put things into perspective thank you.

    1. I feel honoured that my post has helped you, Debbie.

      I thought my first novel was a waste of time as I never did anything with it after the first draft. Now I see that I learnt a lot about writing from it. Maybe I’ll dust it off one day.

      Thanks for commenting.

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