Oh, don't you just love when my titles make you question why you read my blog in the first place? I sure do. I know this one might hurt your view of my Awesome Level, but I will power through anyway.
I'm sitting here right now with this sick feeling. It's a feeling much like the one that arrives after eating too many of those "organic chocolate chips" you swore would just be for "a handful after dinner." I feel as though I'm staring at the empty bag wondering who is watching because I'm about to tell you of my imperfection. Hold on tight.
As I transfer words from the left side of my journal to this post, I can't help but hear the right side taunting me. You see, I just wrote about 1,000 words of total crap. Rubbish, to be exact and British.
I began with a title, which I often do in blog posts. It's more of a topic from which to begin. The concept was a little iffy, so I thought I just needed to get over the hump, climb up the hill into greener pastures, which has happened many a time. If I can just muscle my way through a bit of gooey nonsense, I typically realize where I wanted to go by the end. Then, only a matter of going back and revising how I arrived there, the time I spent is easily salvageable.
This was not that. It was, absolutely stinking up the whole coffee shop, terrible.
I write in a notebook, you know. Pen to paper, cathartically crossing out and scribbling over the initial idea and replacing it with a more refined, or simply snobbier, word. It wasn't until I listened to a TED Talk entitled, "Teach girls bravery, not perfection," that I realized why I cherished this method so entirely.
In this talk, Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, details an experience she had with one of her students. She explains, "Instead of showing the progress that she made, she'd rather show nothing at all. Perfection or bust."
Perfection or bust.
In every inch of my life outside of writing, those three words kill me. However, in the solitude and serenity of my notebook, I feel safe to scribble, draw arrows, marginalia the bajeezus out of a piece of writing as it leads to an even better idea for the next post, article, crazy brave e-mail, mini-lesson, and on and on. (Does anyone else think "marginalia" sounds a bit...well... high school teachers and college students, you likely catch my drift. *sorry mom*)
There are many famous authors whose processes simply fascinate me. A.R. Ammons, for example wrote his poem "Garbage," full of stories of redemption and resurrection, when he drove by a garbage heap. Also, he drafted many of his poems on receipt tape, so as to have a confined area for his words rather than having run of a whole page. How's this for irony? And the National Book Award goes to.... GARBAGE!!! Take that, perfectionism!
Similarly, Emily Dickinson wrote somewhere around 3,507 poems--many in letter or fragment form--but only published a handful of them. I bet she sometimes thought, Man, that poem was a heaping pile of rubbish! (She was American, but don't people from Massachusetts talk like that?)
I think you get the drift. Sometimes you have to wade the stench of mirky water, to get to the greatness, the clarity that comes from making it through the process to the other side. Okay, not sometimes--ALL THE TIME. In fact, I don't there is another side of process, do you? Maybe we are doomed to constant refinement, but stretching those muscles and working through the soreness means a whole lot of strength built in the process. (Hey, there's that word again!)