“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen said that.
Today’s Journal Prompts: (do one, some, all, or none, as you wish)
By striving for perfection, what really happens is…
What cracked me open was…
Think of someone who did something good/ ok / good enough / pretty well / maybe sorta bad even …
What do you think they had that allowed them to do it imperfectly?
Make a list of 10 things that you can offer right now, imperfectly.
Oh, how I have problems with imperfection! I can’t even send an email unless my spelling and punctuation are perfect. I revise constantly. I have an image to maintain! I have an English degree!
What a load of bullshit.
I keep comparing my work to people who worked for decades to get to the point of the work I admire now. Alan Moore didn’t just wake up one day and write Swamp Thing and The Watchmen. Neil Gaiman didn’t write Sandman in high school. Walt Whitman didn’t just jot things down and come up with great poems.
All the bios and autobios I’ve read should get it through my head that NOBODY starts great. It takes practice and work and blood and sweat and tears.
I know I’m not alone in this. SARK talks about it a lot. George Lucas re-did bits of Star Wars because he wasn’t happy with it. STAR WARS for gods’ sakes! Spielberg did it too. In this digital age, it’s too easy to keep fucking with the work and not let it be.
The stories I want to write terrify me because I’m so scared I can’t do them well enough, I can’t be “perfect”, I can’t do them justice to the ideal in my head. But NOBODY can ever do justice to the ideal in their head! I’ve read and seen enough interviews to know that.
Do it badly and keep doing it badly as you slowly get better. I know that’s the only way it works.
By striving for perfection, what really happens is I end up doing nothing. And that is far worse than doing something “badly.”
Should Lou Reed or Joe Strummer not have sung? What the hell is “badly” anyway? Some people love Bon Jovi and I hate him/them. Some people hate Queen and I love them.
What are those cracks he’s talking about anyway? The little mistakes? The unforeseen happy accidents? The purely human thing that will always be in anything a human creates?
I remember reading that Dine weavers purposely put a small mistake in their rugs because perfections offends the gods.
Perfectionism is just another excuse for not writing, for letting fear stop me from seeing what’s really in my head and heart. It’s really just the fear of looking stupid and looking like a beginner. It’s the fear of “not living up to my potential.” It’s the fear that I’m really hollow and shallow and have nothing of value in me to share.
It’s easier not to find out, isn’t it?