Have you ever noticed the thing we want often shows up at just the right time?
While I was thinking about writing a blog post I literally stumbled across the quote by John Updike—Perfection is the enemy of creation. And there I had it, an idea to blog about. Thanks Universe, you’re one cool dude!
Many of us admit to being perfectionists in some area of our lives if not all. While I hardly consider myself a perfectionist, I can be quite nitpicky when it comes to writing. I often spend outrageous amounts of time writing and rewriting paragraphs, waltzing around with an armful of words without ever making it off the dance floor. Sometimes the changes I make are so slight it probably makes no difference to anyone but me. I like to fiddle with words, and move sentences around. It’s fun. It’s challenging. It’s a delight!
I really don’t know if that means I’m a perfectionist or that I’m a little on the anal side when it comes to writing. So sue me. What I do know is, there’s no better way to stifle creative endeavours, no better way to stop a story in mid scene, than constantly striving for that perfect flow of words the first time through. In fact, that’s kind of where I am with one of my stories at the moment, and I’ve got to stop it. Okay, so I am anal—there I’ve admitted it. Are you happy now?
While it would be easy to become envious of those writers who can simply let their creativity take over as they write that first draft, I stand back in awe with hopes that one day my creativity will lead me to write a first draft without the need for me to look over my shoulder even once. I truly think that writers who are able to write, write, write are far more productive than those of us who write, revise, edit, write, and inch our way to the end. Getting that first draft down and THEN diving into revisions just seems to make more sense. Unfortunately, the things we do in life don’t always make sense.
To top all that off we have the word perfection to contend with. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but this perfectionism some of us strive for is only a figment of our imaginations. For some reason we think that we should be the judge of what is perfect and what is not, when we all have our own standards as to what we judge as perfect. Why do we assume that our opinion is the only one that counts? Will we ever find that perfect we’re looking for? Maybe, if perfect was something we could pick up and hold in our arms, maybe cuddle close to, something that any dang idiot could look at and recognize like a tree or a flower or a rock. But perfect isn’t any of these things. Perfect is a notion that we carry around in our heads. And unlike a rock or tree, my perfect is going to look a lot different from yours. So who gets to decide whose perfect is the right one? Danged if I know.
What I do know is this; eventually, we have to let go of our work if we ever plan to see it published. No matter how we want to polish our words, making them bright and shiny, eventually we’ll be left with nothing but a dull shine as we rub, rub, rub away that original brilliance. Will it ever be perfect? I guess we’re the only ones who can judge that.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you agree with John Updike that Perfection is the enemy of creation?