Dear Ones —
I am laughing as I'm writing this.
A friend of this page named Maggie McGarvey made this poster and sent it to me today. This is an exact quote of mine — blunders and all — from an interview that I gave in Melbourne, Australia recently.
What I was trying to say here is the same thing I'm always trying to say to people who wish to live creative lives — THAT YOU MUST ALLOW BOTH YOUR WORK AND YOURSELF TO BE IMPERFECT.
You've heard me say before my mother's famous quote, "Done is better than good," and you will hear me say it again.
The demons of perfectionism do more to obstruct and harm artists than almost any other negative force. Those demons can only be battled if you are willing to let go of the idea that your work must be immaculate, or nothing. I say it's better that it's finished, and flawed. A flawed finish is a giant victory. Any finish is a giant victory.
For me, the first revelation of this truth came when I was writing my novel STERN MEN, back in the twenties. I was terrified and insecure. I had never written a novel, and didn't know if I could pull it off. I had only made my job harder by having decided to write about a world I do not know (lobster fishing islands off the coast of Maine) and I felt gravely lacking in authority about my material.
I was about 75 pages into my book when I got stopped by my own fear — and also by the certainty that my feeble attempt at a novel sucked. There were tears, yes, there were hot desperate tears. And there was shame. It was deliciously tempting to quit.
But then I said to myself, "I am NOT going to be one of those people who goes to her grave with 75 pages of an unfinished novel in her desk drawer."
I made a commitment at that moment to finish the book, even though I didn't like my novel or believe in myself. I kept writing just out of pure stubbornness, and as a way of giving the middle finger to the bullies of my own fear.
I also remembered that I had made a promise to myself and to the universe years earlier that I would be a writer. I never promised I would be a GOOD writer, mind you. I just promised I would be a writer. So I had to finish.
And in conclusion, I thought, "If anybody doesn't like my novel, then they can go write their own fucking books. But mine will be DONE."
Because done is better than good.
Thank you, Maggie, for making this poster!
(And if anyone wants to see the whole talk, from which this marvelously inarticulate quote was taken, you can find it here: https://bit.ly/1fA6hhb)
COURAGE AND PERSISTANCE, CREATORS!