Sunday, 19 January 2014

Monday blog: Letting go

Currently reading: Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Just finished reading: I have no mouth and I must scream - Harlan Ellison
Writers' Bureau course progress: Assignment 2 in progress

I hesitate to call myself a perfectionist; the term often sounds trite and casts whomever uses it as a pretentious figure. Instead I would describe myself as someone who seeks a level of quality that will never be obtainable through my own merits.

This may sound like a defeatist attitude but this is what being a so-called perfectionist is about; not being perfect but rather holding yourself to an individually determined but unreasonable standard.Don't get me wrong, I take no issue in having high standards, but it's important to know when and where to apply them. To expect The Divine Comedy from the first draft of the first chapter is to invite ruin.

For me, right now, learning to let go is quite possibly the single most important element of my writing goals. No amount of writing theory, book study or writers' advice will help in this situation; it's simply a case of writing. Writing nonsense, allowing myself to type words which have little to no coherence, letting poor grammar and spelling slip through the tightly woven threads of my net of scrutiny.

Although this approach sounds as if I am purposely writing gibberish, it is not the case. Learning to let go is to accept that mistakes will happen, word selection will be unimaginative and paragraph structure will be non existent. It just will. In fact, it's more than that; it needs to be that way.

The key is to remember that this pile of poorly constructed words is still my best effort. It's a different sort of best effort. It shall be my most skilled and deft attempt at crafting a skeleton, at creating ideas and getting words on (virtual) paper. Later, when the true edits come, that is where a different sort of skill will be required. That is when the critical brain can be released to wreak havoc on the mess of a first draft. That is when, paradoxically, it will be the least hateful because, despite the rough edges, something was achieved and perhaps, just maybe, it wasn't half as bad as I had originally feared.

Last week marked the first day of Random Fridays, an exercise in letting go. I wrote just over 600 words of terrible fiction that I cannot stand to look at. I posted it, as is, immediately after writing and edited nothing outside my writing hour. I hate it and cannot bear to look upon it. I can think of several better ideas I could have implemented using the provided words. But I can also see ways to improve what I have, a way to make better the paragraphs that I cast off as useless rubbish. There is a value in all words, but you need to let the words come before you can ever hope to find that quality within.

This is the lesson of letting go. This is my biggest hurdle.

This is Frisk,
signing off.

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