I’ve been thinking about perfection and how life is about growing and changing and learning. We can’t learn without experimenting and making mistakes, and in any event, perfection to one person may be an absolute disaster to another. Today I was reminded that mistakes are okay, that accumulated wisdom and compassion are more important to me than perfection.
That ties in with writing. The need to be perfect may be the number one champion cause of writer’s block. As I ponder this reality, my mind drifts back sixty years. My mother was a seamstress par excellence, as was hers before her, and presumably sew on up the maternal line. That I would follow the same path was assumed. No early seam went uninspected, and no flaw was too small to ignore. I spent a major chunk of my girlhood using a double-edged razor blade to rip out flawed seams with slight puckers and uneven stitching.
Before too many years, Inspector Mom had taken up residence in my head. A decade or so later, while ripping out stretch stitches (nothing is more challenging that ripping stretch stitches from knit fabric!) to remove a tiny pucker from the back of a sleeve seam in a pajama top for my toddler son, I had a epiphany. I realized this was not a good use of my time! I discovered the concept of “good enough,” a balance between perfection and purpose.
Several decades have passed since that pajama top was outgrown, and I keep learning new angles about perfection, purpose and myself. New challenges continue to emerge. Sometimes I laugh at myself for obsessing about reformatting e-mail forwards. I remind myself that posting a blog with an imperfect analogy is better than not posting the blog. Or is it…? Blogs are a serious business.
Egad! I’m writing myself into a corner. How can I make this blog about perfection perfect? Obviously, I can’t. So I’ll quit trying and assume that you, Gentle Reader, will find your own way. I’ll assume that you are already discovering how to balance your own skills with your own purpose to convey your own message in your own wonderful and unique style. I’ll assume that you’ll be gentle with yourself, give yourself permission to write scribbles for the fireplace for practice, and be happy with the stories that reflect your own best and special self, serving as your own best judge.
I briefly pointed to my own early training in perfection at the point of my mother’s needle. I’ve already written several stories about this training and how it has shaped my life. What lessons did you learn about perfection and its significance? How has that shaped your life, and your writing?
Write on (imperfectly if you will),
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal