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.