Trying Something New. . . And Stinking at It

While I’ve finished writing one book and am more than halfway through a second, there are some projects I’ve tackled that haven’t fared so well. Here are some of my less successful attempts at learning/practicing new skills:

Playing the cello – I love the deep, mellow sound of the cello. I’d tried playing instruments when I was a kid, but wasn’t really all that interested, so thought I’d give it a shot as a motivated adult. I acquired an inexpensive, used cello from a friend and began lessons. I stuck with it for two years and got to the point that I could play some simple pieces that were recognizable. But I wasn’t good at it. If I wanted to be even mediocre I was going to have to practice for hours every day. Turns out I didn’t want to play the cello that badly–I wanted to read, write, cook, hike, hang out with friends . . . so the cello sits idle in my closet now.

KnittingI have an aunt who can knit intricate pieces without looking. Two sticks and some yarn–how hard could this be? Well, after several months I had half of a scarf (with alternately too tight and too loose stitches) and seriously waning interest. Knitting looks cozy, but like everything else it turns out to take practice.

Gardening – Okay, I still mess around in the flower beds and yard, but I’m not good at it. My tomatoes blight, my lily of the valley doesn’t bloom and my mock oranges are sprangledy. And I don’t weed nearly often enough. I like gardening enough to persist, but not enough to do it really well.

So how is it that I stick with writing? Maybe because it’s only slightly harder than breathing for me. Turns out I mostly like doing things that come easily. And sometimes that makes me feel a little disappointed with myself. Maybe I should try harder, branch out more, be willing to practice for hours on end. Then again, maybe God made me love writing for a reason. Maybe He has a plan (and He surely does). And while I know God could use my knitting to further His kingdom if He wanted to, maybe He likes it best when I write. I know I do . . .

Q4U – What have you tried that you either didn’t like or weren’t good at?

Categories: Waiting


  1. Really thought I wanted to play the piano and that I would do whatever it took to do it, including buying a used upright piano (nearly 40 years ago) that turned out to be very out of tune. It also included telling the seller that “we” would come get it. Something my then husband was NOT happy about since our farm was several miles out a dirt road and up a small WV mountain! I arranged to take lessons, but never found the time from farm duties and three small children to practice. it wasn’t long before we gave the piano away AND delivered it. I’ve tried many other things that I “wasn’t very good at,” but have gotten a lot of pleasure from doing anyway.

  2. You were maybe 6 or 7 and you begged to take lessons with me! She said you were a better student than I…. But you didn’t like to practice any better than I…

  3. This post made me smile. I have a tendency not to try things that don’t come naturally for me (i.e. sports, musical instruments, foreign language). But a couple of years ago, I realized that I might be passing on this special form of laziness to my children. So I decided to try gardening.

    For some reason I feel the need to do everything from scratch, and sprouting the seeds seemed like the logical way to start a garden, even though every grocery and hardware store in a 20 mile radius has baby plants on sale in the spring. After many weeks of sprouting, nurturing seedlings, transplanting, and mothering my new “babies,” we had a decent organic garden going. The following year (where we purchased baby plants) was much more successful and we tried our hand at a tiny winter garden this year. Still waiting for the broccoli to flower, but who knows if it ever will in our San Diego weather. In any case, stepping out of the box every once in a while is a healthy exercise, even if it’s not something you decide to stick with in the long-run. 🙂

    • I’ve gone the sprouts route before–and baby plants are a much better option. As for winter gardening, that’s amounts to a pot of basil and one of thyme in my kitchen window. By the way, forget about growing basil from seed–it takes FOREVER!

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