Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NY Times best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary. (Author: Patti Digh)
Ordinary. I can relate to that. To be honest I have never ever seen ordinary as something I aspired to be. But it is true, my ordinary, is not yours. It is mine and mine alone. You cannot and never well have it even if you tried. You can only be you. I can be me.
When I worked full-time as a journalist for various organizations and newspapers, I won several awards. One award was for first place in the magazine feature category from American Hospital Association. I wish I could say that awards don’t matter to me. That was not the case then and may still not be entirely true. However, I recognize it is a type of comparison in which you falsely think because you received the award then you are a really good writer.
In actuality, that award only won me the angst of my boss who also entered the same category. She did not speak to me for days and told me I would not be entering the category the next year. What she said was prophetic. I quit the job shortly thereafter, but the main reason was a very precious newborn daughter. I also was editing a Christian newspaper. It wasn’t paying me a salary but it was my passion. The point is, my boss’ attitude made quitting and doing what I felt the voice I know to be God was quietly telling me to do all along.
The height of winning an award did not match the satisfaction I got at being able to stay home, raise my son and daughter and do meaningful and satisfying work.
The only person I need to compare myself with is myself. Whatever is my best today can only be topped by my best tomorrow. That is not to say that I have to be the best in the world but I do need to continue to improve my craft. The only way to do anything well is to practice. Some things I write will just be practice. But it is in the practicing that improvement will come. The only way to not improve is to stop.
A writer writes. If I am not writing, I am not a writer.
Perfection is the great enemy of writers. For many years I worked as a newspaper writer and editor. When you are on deadline, it is a guarantee when the publication comes out, there will be something that will kick your butt. Most definitely that kick will come from your own foot. Even when I post this, I will probably find something to change. After I change it, if I read it again, I’ll find something else. I try to avoid re-reading too many times. It spirals to an endless of loop of perfecting and re-perfecting. Instead I have made an agreement with myself to move on.
Bob, an author I heard at a workshop, said that when he writes under contract he tells the publisher he will write the book, send it to them and then they have free reign with editing. He doesn’t want to be involved in the editing process and doesn’t want to see it again until it comes out in print. He wants to spend his time on the next project. This works for him. Since I have only self-published I don’t know if it will work for all publishers. But I do like the concept.
Giving up control, though, that would be rather difficult for me. And I do recognize that cycles back to the perfectionistic streak. There is a voice inside of me that screams, “That’s not perfect.” I’m sure there is not one best-selling author that feels their work is perfect even after they have been working through a myriad of rewrites. I think Bob has the write idea (misspelling intended).
Perfect happens when we are presented perfect before the Father. That happens only because we have accepted Jesus as the sacrifice for everything we have done that is against God. When we die, if we have accepted his sacrifice, we are then made perfect because He is the only One who ever lived on earth and was perfect.
This I know and believe. So then why do I think I can ever be perfect? As I said in another post during these some 25 days of prompts, I will be my messy, imperfect self. That will show through in my writing.
I will celebrate being ordinary. Because even though there are things I do that seem ordinary, run of the mill, anyone-can-do-it things, they are done with my unique, God-given, God-endowed, God-created touch.
I am proud to be most ordinary.