Thursday, May 26, 2011

Perfection


I'm stuck on board games this week. For whatever reason, they work with the topics I want to write about, and allows me to reminisce about games I played growing up.

I loved playing the game Perfection. The object - beat the clock to get all the funky shaped pieces where they belong before the timer goes and the pieces explode in your face. Fun game. Not a fun way to be.

Perfection

While not as terrifying to me as the word "risk" it reeks of negativity. To me the word perfection insinuates failure. It hints that there's something wrong with me. It screws with my confidence and magnifies my flaws, and I'm attached to some of my flaws. My flaws help me learn. They make up who I am. And part of being me means I write. When something threatens my ability to write, I go all Xena Warrior Princess and get my battle on.

I've gotta fight for the right to write!

Perfection comes with a cost.

It can cost you relationships if you expect it in others. It can cost you your health if you try and live up to someone else's idea of beauty and weight. It can cost you a job. It can get you to write the voice right out of your story. I tried so hard to make a story perfect that I lost my voice.

True story.

I tweaked and changed and twisted my words to make them fit something that in the end wasn't my story. I rewrote my characters until they were strangers. And my plot? Forget about it. Gone with the wind. Gone with my voice. Gone baby gone.

Messing around with all the unique and exciting elements to my story resulted in a humdrum and incomplete story. Humdrum because it didn't flow. Incomplete because it lacked voice. I didn't recognize my story anymore. All of my stories have some element of ME in them, yet I couldn't be found. I was a missing piece.

So I had this super clever idea: Start another story.
Guess what? I did the same thing to that story. I butchered it. At no point could I convince myself that it was good, because it wasn't perfect. I don't even know what perfect is. Soon I had ten unfinished and imperfect stories. All lacking voice. Months of work and nothing to show for it. I convinced myself that if I kept reworking the sentences it would be perfect. I lost my way and went down a dead end street. The words that I tried to fit into the story blew up in my face - just like in the game Perfection. I timed out. Game over.

Well...not over. Because like the game, I tried different tactics until I got it right. I worked at it and found a way to make the pieces fit. Nothing went boom.

I don't obsess about my stories the way I used to. I write and I edit and I allow myself to be heard. I know when I need to take a breath and hit send. I know when enough is enough.

I don't need to be perfect. I need to be me.

~Ann Cory

12 comments:

Romantic Heretic said...

Well said.

Unfortunately we live in a society that is highly perfectionist, where enough just isn't enough. Where, as one person I watched in a video on-line said, being wrong is either ignorant, stupid or evil.

No wonder we're so hung up on perfection. ;)

Annie Oortman said...

I raise my hand. I, too, am a Perfectionaholic.

annie

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Yeah. I got over being a perfectionist long ago. As a student, getting a B could make me near suicidal. All done with that. It's our lovely imperfections that make us human, accessible, and make our stories resonate with readers.

Ann Cory said...

I think it's a mind set. Where I used to be hung up on superficial things, I find I'm not anymore. Might also be that I'm getting older and time is more valuable to me.

I always appreciate you stopping by Romantic Heretic :)

Ann Cory said...

Hi Annie! I'm learning so much from your wonderful workshop. I'm so thrilled that you stopped by! Thank you!!

Everyone should follow the Grammar Divas :)

Ann Cory said...

Morning Julia :) Isn't it freeing! I'm writing more without the restraints, you know? lol. *hugs*

I appreciate you stopping in!

Ciara said...

I'm over perfection. It was an obstacle in my path of quality story telling. That's what I am, a story teller. As a reader, I care more about the characters and the heart of the story than the writing. That being said, I don't want to read something full of typos because it's distracting. :)

Sharon said...

Thanks for sharing, Ann.

I wish I had no idea what you were talking about, but I struggle with this all the time. I have a hard time letting a book be finished because it's never perfect enough. I imagine I could always open my manuscript and tweak it or rewrite a sentence. So I need to remember that my work is perfect enough.

Ann Cory said...

Hi Ciara :) Oh I agree on the typos. Multiple edits are necessary. We need to turn in polished manuscripts. But when we become too caught up in fixing and revising after the tenth time, we're no longer polishing - we're rubbing our voice right out.

I so appreciate you popping in!! :) Thank you!

Ann Cory said...

Afternoon Sharon :) Many times we've edited our work to the best of our abilities (not perfect) and at that point should hit the SEND button. Polished work for an editor or agent is a must. That perfection thing is a whole other beast.

Glad you stopped on by today - WOOT!

Nancy said...

Hi Ann,
Oh, so true about perfection! You've hit it right on, for sure.
Nice blog, by the way.
Nancy from Melange

Ann Cory said...

Hi Nancy! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment :) Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to give a shout out! Hope you have a lovely evening.