The Prompter Room

For Saturday, November 28, 2015:

“Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend.”

Anne Lamott, BIRD BY BIRD

It’s a good thing I didn’t strive for perfectionism when I started what will be the last chapter of my current novel-in-progress.  This is the most important chapter of the book and it was hard to start.  Once I got over that hurdle, I rewrote parts of it several times, and reordered other parts of it at least twice.

A day or two ago, I then tried writing the lead-in vignette before the final scene, and it was bad.  Bad, I say!  I knew it, but I kept going.  It felt important that I get some words down — anything, as long as it related, however tangentially, to the finale.  And then I let it sit.

Restless in both body and mind, I got up before dawn this morning, retrieved my laptop and settled back in bed to try writing that scene again.  This time it worked.  I cleaned up the mess I’d made and added some important dialogue, but I saw that I could keep the basic idea and the direction.  That, in turn, led to the opening I was looking for.

I’ll let this morning’s work sit for a while, too, but I feel better about things now.  It feels genuine now, rather than forced.  Is it art?  That’s for the eventual reader to decide, but I can see the shine that was underneath the mess now, and I’m glad I got my hands dirty getting there.


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