The Journey

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “journey” these past few days, that path we’re all on, and how different that journey is for each of us. Life isn’t just about the end result, but the journey; all those twists and turns along the way. It’s about the deeds we do (the good AND the bad), the mistakes we make, the people in our lives, the love we give and receive. It’s not about things or money. It’s not about perfection. Because truthfully, “perfection” is really a matter of personal taste. What is perfect, but a notion, an ideal that varies with individual taste. It’s like the reader who hates a book you loved and loves a book you hated. Who’s right?

I don’t think there is a right.

Recently, I asked my Facebook friends if they allowed their kids to help decorate the Christmas tree. It was a subject that got brought up at work that day and I was curious. I was surprised by how many said they didn’t– apparently because they felt the kids wouldn’t (I wanted to say “couldn’t” here but if you never let them try how would you know? ) do a good enough job at decorating.

Good enough..wow!

Good enough for what?

For who?

I’m curious.

As a child I always helped decorate our Christmas tree. It was a highlight of Christmas. I even remember some of my favourite ornaments. When my kids were old enough I couldn’t imagine them not helping because seriously, it wasn’t about the tree or how “perfect” it needed to be. It was about doing something together, having fun, sharing some laughs, building memories.

I’m not saying that all those Facebook friends are wrong. If having a “perfect” tree is that important to you than by all means you should keep the kids as far away from the tree as humanly possible. 😉
I don’t believe in the right or wrong way to do things. We all live life differently. We all have different values, different beliefs. We all do things differently. Thank goodness for that!

I’m not going to ask here if you let your kids decorate your Christmas tree. I just want to leave you with the thought that sometimes the end result isn’t as important as we believe it to be. Sometimes the important part is the experiences and people we encounter along the way.

Lately, my own journey has kept me away from blogging but I’m hoping with the new year coming , and my busy season now at an end, that will change. I try not to dwell on the fact that I’ve been absent here for quite some time because it really wouldn’t help change anything. I can tell you I’ve been working on a new book with no plans on when it will be finished. I don’t often impose unrealistic deadlines on my time. I’m just hopeful it won’t take me a few years to come to the end.

Here’s hoping you enjoy your journey this week.

Are You a Perfect Writer?

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?

The Rewriting Trap

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.

————————-Eugene Delacroix

When I read this quote I was reminded of a kid who erases a certain spot so many times they eventually end up rubbing a hole in their work. Their once white paper is now grey and dirty looking, flawed beyond repair.

Sometime we writers want or expect our stories to be perfect. We go over our sentences and paragraphs with a fine tooth comb sometimes changing a word here or there. We read it so many times the words become stale and we no longer see it as that gem we once started with. So we revise again.

It’s easy to get caught up in the “rewriting trap”.

Recently, I mentioned to a writer friend that I was working on revisions (again) and she jokingly warned, “Don’t get caught in the forever rewriting trap with our manuscript.”

I can honestly see how a writer could get caught in this trap. Like the kid who keeps erasing his/her paper, we search for the right wording, the just so sentences and paragraphs– the perfect story. Sometimes the scariest thing is calling it good and sending our work on its way.

I’m not perfect. I’m sure nothing I write would ever be classified as perfect, if such a thing even exists. And if it did exist I’m not so sure I’d want to be a part of it. Sounds a bit boring to me.

It is our imperfections that make us human. It keeps us real. The moment we consciously try and try and try to make our work perfect the further we get away from who we are.

So, while I’m planning to take time with these latest revisions, I also have a goal in mind as to how long I will keep reworking it. The story is already written. I have little more to change. A bit of polishing, a few shakes to get out the wrinkles and I will send it off when the time is right.

Now I’m a bit curious and must ask— Do you believe in perfection? Do you go over your work many times searching for perfection until you’ve rubbed a hole in your paper? Are you ever satisfied with the end results?

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