Thursday, May 26, 2011
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.
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.
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.