When I was a kid, my mom gave me motherly wisdom as most mothers do: “To have friends you have to be friendly; if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all; you have to get messy to make art.” All true statements and all not readily absorbed, especially the first and third ones. To the first, I was a shy kid who struggled to make friends, and, to the second, I hated to get messy. I loved art, but I hated to get paint or glue all over my hands. Perhaps I already was exhibiting an inclination toward perfectionism.
One of my favorite musicians is a perfectionist. I know this because, in my sporadic attempts to be a dedicated fan, I spent some time reading this musician’s comments about one of his albums. He described himself as a perfectionist musician, then stated his work was never finished, only abandoned.
Today’s post is courtesy of Michael Schechter.
I have the grammatical skills of the average chimpanzee. No, that’s not fair, I’m insulting chimps. It’s not something that comes naturally and when it comes to my writing, it’s not my highest priority. Regardless of this deficiency, I write. I write to become a slightly better chimp. I write because I have something I want to say. I write because I want to find my voice and by using it, I seek to make it stronger.
Last night, I wrote a crappy poem.1 I then wrote a mediocre poem.* It probably was a crappy poem, too, but I decided to work with it. It was slightly better than the outright crappy one, and I needed to work on a poem. I needed to work through the crappiness. Why? I believe that embracing crappiness is a part of being a writer. It’s only in writing the crappy thing that I can move onto writing something better – if only by a few degrees.