So I just finished a draft of my comic. Keep in mind it’s a draft, and not a final product yet. I’m waiting to hear about some thing from both my artist and my editor. I’m really, really excited about this. I’ve had this draft in the back of my mind for over a year. I’m looking forward to working with the people who I am working with. If nothing else, this will be a testament to seeing a vision come through.
But I must make a confession. This was one of the hardest things I’ve had to write. Yeah, sure, the standards and goals I set out for doing this script played a part in it. Unusual circumstances forced me to stretch and become uncomfortable in the process of creating this work.
But most of it was me getting in the way.
Yup. I got in the way of this. Not because I doubted that I could do it.
Because I wanted the perfect moment.
Perfection is a lofty ideal. We all have this idea of capturing this perfect moment in our craft. That perfect line, that perfect sentence, sometimes even the perfect word. Perfect is an ideal.
The key word is ideal.
I’m not perfect. The older I get, the more I realize that I do have some limitations. Sometimes I’m an asshole. I want to help people, and want them to overcome what obstacles are in their way. I’m also pushy as fuck. People aren’t always comfortable with moving forward, and unless life gives them no choice (which it does upon occasion) it is not my place to tell them where they should go.
It’s an inner megalomania, and one I’m working on. There are things I need to let go, and there are things that I’m still not quite past, that I should be. I’m not sure why exactly, but I’m working on it.
That’s the beauty of life, is that change is the great constant. I can evolve and I can keep changing and growing. My cement hasn’t dried up in this life and my final form hasn’t been produced. The clay is still being molded.
That said, I have limitations, flaws and things I can always work to improve on. I can progress. I can evolve. I can change.
But I’ll never be perfect.
I’m okay with that.
You should be too.
The idea of the story in your head is perfect. It is without flaw and without shape or form. It is endless possibility, until you write down that first line. Once the lines on the page are formed, the perfection dies. There is no flawless piece of work. Every writer I know looks back at older works and cringes. All the flaws are crystallized. The temptation to change the work is always there.
I can just go back and fix that word, or phrase. I can always rework that line to make this picture better.
What we forget sometimes is that those flaws give our work shape. It’s part of the charm of it. All those flaws are unique to the work and for all the polish and things we can change, the product we present in that moment is often our best.
Also, our flaws give us shape. Limitations give us form. They are the cup in which we are shaped. Once we recognize it, we have the ability to surpass those limits. And then our shapes change.
Each work of art is our best self expression in that moment in time. One of the biggest challenges Terry Pratchett had when he worked on the Carpet People
was the fact that his younger teenage self had written the first drafts of it. Even though Terry was a better writer much older, the voice of the work was younger Terry’s and that had to be respected.
There is nothing quite as authentic as the person you were when you created something. Stick figures drawn by someone who is doing their best do not feel the same as someone with great skill drawing stick figures. Technically the latter may have more skill and talent, but the heart and intention isn’t as pure. The technique is all in the head, and not in the heart.
When we let ourselves open up, that is when we are at our best. We are bold when we step out into the world and express ourselves in the best form possible. Because that very feat is one of the bravest things we can do. No matter how much polish, technique and skill I have acquired as a writer, some of my earliest works will never be touched. I no longer have the heart to tell those stories. That belongs to another me from a long time ago. It was his shape, his form that constructed these stories. It is nearly impossible for me to even attempt to try.
The fact that I cringe so much now compared to then tells me that I have come a long way from where I was. That’s a good thing. If I didn’t get better, perhaps I shouldn’t be writing like this for anything other than pleasure.
My final point that ties this altogether comes from salt. Yup, salt. See, there are differences in the qualities of salt out there. You can see it when you put salt under a microscope. Iodized salt looks perfect. The crystals are all the same shape, without flaw, without any visible imperfections. Sea salt in contrast has these little black spots all in it. The shapes of the crystals are all different and there are somethings that just seem wrong to look at.
Yet, sea salt is far healthier for us. Precisely because of the flaws in them. Those black spots, those different shapes allow us to absorb sea salt better than we can iodized salt. Cool huh?
Striving for an ideal greater than you in writing and in ourselves is fantastic. We all can improve, as stated above. And we should always be striving too. We can quit smoking, or do the things that make us uncomfortable. We can became greater and nobler and more vexing with each day.’
But if we focus on our imperfections and what we are missing, we ignore what we already have and we rob ourselves often of the opportunities to become more. The important thing is that we do the things inside us. Perfection is often a barrier for such things.
Instead, we should be focusing on progression. We can always get better. We can become better artists, better people, better in our relationships, better in our life choices. We have to work at those things. I try to let things go better. Most of the time I succeed. Sometimes I fall short. And that’s okay too. I’m allowed to make mistakes. I just hope I have the wisdom to learn from them.
And sometimes, it allows me to take chances. Right this minute I have a novel I’m about to experiment with. (I hope that announcement comes soon) along with a comic that is going to be a homage to a literary genius. I really don’t know if I’m up to the task. That said, I’m not afraid to try and in both cases I have great people I’ll be working with the whole way.
And every day I try to do my best. Some days I fail, but I think more often than not, I get better.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
Just go for it.