Prepare for Imperfection (NaNo Prep 29)

Words are not as satisfactory as we should like them to be, but, like our neighbors, we have got to live with them and must make the best and not the worst of them. — Samuel Butler

I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their own validity no matter what. — Madeleine L’Engle

Image courtesy of Cris Watk via stock.xchng

Image courtesy of Cris Watk via stock.xchng

Lack of faith in one’s own strengths necessarily results in a less-effective human being. My favorite example (though non-human) is of the squirrel who could do no better than a C in swimming, and the fish who got an F in tree-climbing.

There are some very important things I am just. not. good at (keeping up with laundry and healthy food is a perennial joke among parents, but sometimes we laugh about things so we won’t accidentally cry). I mean, stuff like food and clothing is not the stuff of life– the stuff we live for or want to be remembered for– but they are the things that make the stuff of life possible. They are essential, and they’re dead weight.

A lot of the time they seem to be won by those with the greatest endurance.

And this is not my strong place.

But, even though I know this is my weakest part, even knowing that writing is a greater strength, that doesn’t mean that everything I write is good, effortless, or even enjoyable (to me or a reader).

This can lead to some stinkin’ thinkin’: I’m not even good at ____________. Why is *everything* so hard?!.  Be careful about thoughts like that.

Shifting your expectations is a good place to start. Assume everything will be work. Then, when you make the happy discovery that some work can be fun, life balances out a little more positively.

Image courtesy of Joseph Mankin via stock.xchng

Image courtesy of Joseph Mankin via stock.xchng

Every time something gets too hard and I want to wig out, I’m reminded of an inevitably recent example (in my homeschooling livingroom) that recently was on display. On a nearly weekly basis one of my brilliant, beautiful children will realize what they’re doing is not. perfect. and life will cease to hold any meaning. Bones will loose their rigidity, voices will leak through half-opened mouths, and the sound of despair will foul the sweet, wood-smoked air.

The words I use continually on them: This isn’t the end. Did you expect to be perfect the first time? For Pete’s sake, how much does this matter?! Are you locked into this forever? No! You will continue to grow!

These are the words I tell myself, before I melt out of my chair, sobbing. Because I am an adult, doggonit! I will NOT act like a child (if I think about it ahead)!


Whatever age you are, drink your milk (or take your calcium), let your bones do their job:

Stay in the chair and do the work.

Image courtesy of mihai9 radu via stock.xchng

Image courtesy of mihai9 radu via stock.xchng

If it is not everything you want it to be at this moment, celebrate that you see clearly enough not to be blinded to its imperfection by your closeness.

Remember this is just the beginning. Celebrate progress, silence that critical voice. If it needs acknowledgement, give it a pat on the head and tell it you’ll listen better after the 30th.