I think it’s the notion of perfection – or near perfection anyway that often holds me back from doing the best I can. I discovered the notion of good enough parenting when my children were young and I was working and writing. I wanted to be a perfect mom but there are no perfect afternoons and certainly no ideal weekends, There are though, wonderful walks in the woods, days at the park, trips to the library, free concerts, baking cookies, macaroni and cheese with broccoli trees. Watching the stars.
It added up to more than good enough but if I had waited for it to be perfect none of those times together would have happened. I’d still be waiting and planning. Their childhood would have slipped by. I am glad it didn’t.
And now I am trying to apply those same principles to my writing. I am always after the perfect line, the one that sings and balances sound, that carries the reader from one scene to the next and seems effortless. But those lines are rare and they’ll never come if I don’t get all those good enough words down first. A short poem may be made of near perfect lines but a longer one has just a few and a short story is a blend of lines. A novel I am finding is a composite of lines and pages, scenes and chapters. It is a big weighty thing. Like a portion of a life.
So I am tell myself to just keep writing. Keep getting the words down, make it just good enough then go back and make it better. Then go back and craft those places into the moment when the creek shimmers just so and delights, when the sunset catches on the pond and awes. All the while remembering if we hadn’t walked there on a regular old good enough afternoon we never would have arrived at that fleeting glimpse of perfect.