I've made lots of mistakes in this writing life. Most of them have to do with three basic character flaws:
I've written emails I should never have written. I've sent in manuscripts before they were ready. I've settled for things in book production so that a book could be released earlier rather than later. I've not taken advantage of opportunities because they didn't feel "big" enough.
I didn't take a single writing class in college. I wrote, so I was writer. I didn't need all those classes. Later, of course, I had to work extra-hard to fit into a busy family life all those conferences and critique groups and other learning experiences.
Another time I was speaking at a museum event where kids had been bussed in. We were on a tight schedule, and as soon as I was done speaking, a woman came up to the stage and told me she had brought her ten adopted kids, and, due to a website error, they had missed all but the Q&A of my talk. She expressed how disappointed they were and pointed to them all lined up on the very back row.
Behind me, the organizers were rushing me off the stage to accommodate the next speaker, so I hurried through an apology with the woman and said something lame about how at least the kids would get to meet the quilters, who were also present at the event.
Ten kids! Who wanted to see me! And I didn't even go down or around to meet them.
Regrets, all of them. But do I want to do them over?
No. All those mistakes got me right here, where I am today. If you pull one thread, you risk unraveling the whole thing. All I can do is look at those experiences for what they are: learning opportunities, chances to know myself better, clues about ways I can improve in the future.
And to the woman with the ten kids: if you're reading this, I would love to send you a copy my new book and Skype with your kids. Thank you again for coming all that way, and I'm sorry I was too flustered to see what was most important in that moment. xo