Sunday, February 26, 2012

Perfection


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

4 comments:

Morgan said...

Holy Crap... I SO GET THIS. Gosh, this was the mistake with my last project... man, I could go off on this topic forever, but long story short, I'm sticking with my gut from now on. I'm not going to over analyze so everything changes and falls to pieces. Such a great post! :D

Ann Cory said...

Thanks so much Morgan and I'm thrilled that you stopped by :)

Liv said...

Stick to your guns, Ann. It sounds like you're heading in a good direction.

Jamie Dement (LadyJai) said...

I am such the perfectionist. And it is what tears me up inside. It is the voice that says, "Hey, why bother. You aren't good enough!" It's the voice that says, "You suck!" It's the voice, that if I don't slap it in the face, sit on it, stick it in the corner, or duct tape it to the ceiling, I will listen to and revert to the negativity that is inside of me. It's so easy to be negative! I even did a post about this (my epiphany) for January's #writemotivation. I have to always make the effort to be positive or the perfectionist, the negativity, will overcome me and push me down.