On Chasing Perfectionism

I always have to fight those perfectionist tendencies in myself (and am now horrified to find them emerging in my older son as well).  It certainly does not make for a contented, blissful existence!  So here are some quotes to remind me:

Have no fear of perfection: you will never reach it. (Salvador Dali)

Pleasure in what you do puts perfection in your work. (Aristotle)

When all the details fit in perfectly, there is probably something wrong with the story. (Charles Baxter)

The maxim ‘Nothing prevails but perfection’ may be spelled PARALYSIS. (Winston Churchill)

Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean that all parachutes are perfect. (Benny Hill)

Easier copied out than digested, I know!Image

Everything Has to Be Just So to Write?

There is an article in ‘The New Yorker’ that fills me with guilt: it is an essay by Roxana Robinson, novelist, essayist, short-story writer on how she starts writing first thing in the morning.  She sacrifices conversation with her husband, glancing at the news, a good breakfast and even (horror of horrors!) a decent cup of coffee in her desire to sit down and listen to her deepest thoughts and dreams.

BookshelvesI am full of admiration, but I also have to admit my own experience is so far removed from that, we might as well be living in different galaxies or parallel universes.  Not only do I have a family who conspires to destroy my gossamer of dream-thoughts even if I wake up at 6 in the morning to sneak to the guestroom to get some writing done.  But I am also a bit of an obsessive-compulsive (which means I need to have a clear desk), a coffee snob (which means taking the time to choose the right coffee), a perfectionist (I need to feel I have a clear mind, all the admin paperwork out of the way, my emails checked for any urgent messages) and… OK, I’ll admit it, a procrastinator (so I like to work up to things gradually, which means easing my way in via far too much Twitter or reading blogs or other stories etc. etc.).  It’s a wonder I ever get anything written at all! (But perhaps not so much of a wonder that I have yet to publish a novel).

So this blog post below is perhaps a fairer description of what happens in my house (I was unable to reblog this, so I am cutting and pasting it from the website of Abigail Kloss-Aycardi, which is well worth a visit):

I was listening to a lecture on creativity by John Cleese that is posted on Twitter this morning. I found it very inspiring and I agreed with all of his points.

I felt quite ready to get to writing some poetry….but I ran into some basic problems. This is not a poem, just the conversation I had with myself and the conclusion that I reached.

I can’t write with the door shut,
It’s too hot; I’ll suffocate.
“Then put on some shorts,”
I can’t write in shorts.
I just can’t.

I can’t write on my iPad,
I don’t want to “hunt and peck”.
“So use your laptop,”
It’s too heavy and it gets too hot.
I just can’t.

I can’t write in the bedroom,My husband’s in there.
“So what?”
I don’t write with anyone else in the room.
I just can’t.

“So what do you want?”I want an air conditioner in this room.

I want a thin, light-weight, cool-running laptop

And I want to shut the door.

“So what are you going to do?”

Go make some hummus,

The chick peas are almost ready.

I am sure I could write better in this library...
I am sure I could write better in this library…