Progress, not perfection

Cocoa. Marshmallows. Choco-whip.
Cocoa. Marshmallows. Choco-whip.

Early in our marriage, my sweet hubs pointed out what I like to think of as humanity, but he calls a “charming quirk.” We’d eaten out, which we didn’t do often in those days (or these), and he noticed that as I talked, I cut my food into bite sized pieces, then selected a few pieces to eat. I did it without thinking about it. He said it reminded him of the “When Harry Met Sally” movie – Sally always had to create the perfect bite.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you like and the way you like it. But writing, for me anyway, doesn’t take well to that kind of process. When I write, sometimes I get stuck in that “perfect bite” mode. I self-edit to the point of paralysis.  Some days I spend more time thinking of the word choice and possible implications of said choice than I do just letting the ideas pile onto the page.  I don’t know why it happens, and it’s agonizing.

This week has been one of those weeks where I’ve been beating myself up over my staggering lack of perfection. And what do you know, the ol’ creativity faucet has clogged.  Nothing but ick. Quelle surprise. Today I finally FINALLY eked out a few dribbling words on a new MS and it. felt. amazing. The words flowed just enough to remind me that they’re still in there, if only I’d dial down the self-criticism long enough to let them out.

So tomorrow I’ll sit down to write again and I will tell myself that it’s okay. That the page I’m staring at is a welcoming page, an inclusive place where all syllables, consonants and vowels are treated kindly as we build this little world together. Yes, later we will slice everything into pieces and select a few choice morsels to save. But today what’s more important is to keep moving, imagining, slinging ideas out and sprinkling them with whatever comes to mind.

There’s a Book for That

I’ve never been a shoe person.  All my life, I’ve needed just handful of shoes to feel comfortable in any occasion. Need to dress up?  Black pumps.   Exercise?  Sneakers.  Is it summer?  Flip flops.  Winter?  Furry boots.  Have a class?  Plain white flats.  All purpose. No muss, no fuss.

Give me a Scholastic book order form, or a library card, and I’ll show you a smorgasbord of possibilities.  Here’s my latest favorites organized by mood, snackfood and/or weather.

“What is the world coming to? Give me hope, please.”   THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – Katherine Applegate

“I’ll take two pink cotton candies with a side of ridiculous fun.”  ATTACK OF THE FLUFFY BUNNIES – Andrea Beaty

It’s a small world… and all that….KINGDOM KEEPERS series – Ridley Pearson

Perfect for dreary, chilly afternoons. Blankie plus cocoa plus THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE – Jonathan Stroud

What’s your favorite book when you’re feeling sassy?  I’m kinda digging MacBarnett & Jory John’s THE TERRIBLE TWO.   Let me know what I’ve missed.

The Getting Started Post

Everybody says you have to have a platform if you want to be a writer. All these agents, publishers, writers’ blogs – they all say you have to put yourself out there. Not just yourself. Your best, nicest self. This will help people like you, want to work with you, and even buy what you write.

This presents a bit of a pickle. Even my nicest, bestest self contains some fairly questionable material. A few ill-advised phrasings. And horrible timing, no matter how genuine or generous my intentions may be.

The good news is that if we’re ever at a dinner party together, you and me, you will never be the most awkward person in the room. But the bad news is that it’s hard as all get-out to build a platform on a dicey proposition such as me.

I’m up for it if you are, though. So let’s try this: How about first I tell you all the things I’m not. Then we can move on to the fun writing stuff, which is why I’m here in the first place.

I’m not:

  1. Graceful – but I love to dance.
  2. Mean-spirited (on purpose).
  3. Into reality tv, in spite of having a masters’ in documentary film.
  4. Comfortable with heights or water.
  5. Ashamed of loving cheese.
So there we have it. I feel tons better, don’t you?