A short story: Arturo Toscanini was very nearsighted. At the age of 19, he was playing the cello in a small European orchestra. He couldn’t see the music on the stand in front of him, so he had to memorize it and learn to play it by heart.
One day, the orchestra leader suddenly became ill and couldn’t perform. Young Toscanini was the only member of the orchestra who knew the score. That evening, he conducted the orchestra’s entire program without ever referring to the music. His performance was perfect. The audience applauded enthusiastically.
With this event to spur him on, other chances to conduct soon appeared and Toscanini was on his way. If he hadn’t been nearsighted, he might have continued playing the cello as part of the orchestra instead of leading it as one of the finest conductors in the world. He found a way to turn his biggest handicap into an asset and a blessing.
“Your wound is your gift” a dear friend of mine used to say. Sometimes it’s hard to see how this can be true, but in our writing as well as our life, there are ways to make our flaws favor us if only we’re willing to be creative and find them. Let’s look at Toscanini’s tale for inspiration.
First, he accepted his limitation: He didn’t deny it or fight against it. He didn’t let it discourage him to the point that he dropped out of the orchestra and stopped playing the cello altogether as some people might have. Instead, he made a different choice: He decided to work with it.
Then he got creative: He figured out a way to work around his weakness. Instead of letting it overcome him and stifle his dream of being a musician, he found a way to overcome it — to surmount it with a practical strategy.
And finally, once he came up with his strategy, he put it into action: he memorized the entire musical score. Now this must have taken him hours and hours of practice — he must have had moments of discouragement, but he pushed through them. He was a kid, only 19. He could have been out partying with his friends, but instead, he committed himself to doing something difficult that he really cared about.
Right now, you may be struggling with some flaw, some weakness in your writing. I know I am. Let’s take a tip from Toscanini: let’s look for a creative way to work with it. Let’s mine it for gold. Instead of getting discouraged, let’s encourage ourselves to wrestle with it just as Jacob did with an angel, until it blesses us. Write on!