There’s a myth that Amish quilters create an intentional imperfection in their quilts, because only God can create perfection. It’s known as the “humility block”. Although the myth turns out to have been created in 1948 (by a quilter who frequently erred, but wanted to keep moving on to other projects, perhaps?), there’s something to be said for simply accepting imperfection – in quilting, and in life…
And, yes, in our writing and blogging, too. Recently, fellow blogger Linda G. Hill shared this post. She talks about her struggles with how much to edit her blog posts, which publicly represent her writing ability. While commenting on that post, I discovered the seeds of this one, and a focus to carry me through this round.
Here’s how I blog:
I revise each post at least twice in my word processor.
I use templates for all my regular features. Once I know permanent elements are OK, I don’t have to go over them.
I review at least once more while pulling together links, videos, and images, then preview and tweak when I think I’m done (I’m almost never as done as I think I am).
And I still miss things…typos, repeated words, incomplete sentences, clumsy phrasing, broken links…
So what do we do, when we goof up despite our best intentions to create perfection?
What do I do?
I pay due diligence, publish, and move on with my life.
If I catch something, and I’ve got the time and focus available, I’ll pop in and fix it – but I’m human, and humans err sometimes…
So, if I’m in the middle of Other Things, and the error isn’t egregious – I leave it there. Yup, I make it into my very own version of a humility block. I let the mistake stand there, a visual testament to the incontrovertible fact that I’m far from perfect, that I make mistakes, and that sometimes I just have to live with them and get on with my life.
This video has some gems about perfection and the prison it can be. If you’re pressed for time, go to 16:40, and listen from there.
I give a lot to my blogging – and more to my writing, and my family. I hope that anyone reading my blog will overlook a few mistakes, especially given the volume of posts I publish, and the content density of those posts. After all, I’ve never claimed to be an editor, and I named my blog Lovely Chaos, so I don’t think I’m promising perfection I can’t measure up to without taking from other important areas of my life.
Maybe someday, I’ll get the time and focus to go back and make nearly 2,000 posts perfect. But I doubt I will -or that I even want to. I blog, and write, to connect, communicate, and create. I can do that without being unfailingly brilliant, witty, and technically perfect. For my eventually-to-be-published books, I will be hiring an editor (rumor has it you can find great editing at an affordable price here).
For blogging, though…I do the best I can, and then move on. I do what’s reasonable, and doesn’t make me nuts. Then, I take a deep breath, and let it go out into the world, even if it’s got a missed stitch, or tangled threads….
I have this fantasy that the person who invented the ‘humility block’ myth did it so that they could pretend that their mistakes weren’t really mistakes – they could pass them off as intentional errors, and stroke their own egos.
I’d rather claim my mistakes, and learn from them as they go. I’m not interested in blogging or writing less to make time for more editing, and I’m even less interested in taking that time from my family or hometending. I’m a writer, and a wife, and a mother, and I have other obligations. I’m sure that even if yours don’t match mine, you do too. Very few of us life in a vacuum, after all, and, even if we did – what would we have to write about?
This round, my personal challenge is to allow my imperfections to simply be. Maybe it’s paradoxical, because this is also the year I intend to become faster and more thorough at revisions…but I’m maybe just naive or optimistic enough to believe that these two goals can co-exist. I think it’s possible to give ourselves to the revision process, the way I go over my blogposts, and then, when we know we’ve done the best we can, given our due diligence – to release our words. Maybe first to a critique group, beta readers, and/or an editor, but then, once those things have been done and another pass made, to the world…
By the end of the year, I will have self-published my first short story. I’ll know it’s not perfect, and that it never will be exactly what I’m imagining it could be. But I’ll still press ‘send’, and, in so doing, become an indie publisher, as imperfect at that as I am at being a human.
What can you do, if you release the chimera of perfection, and let your best be enough? Because, as Hawkeye Pierce once told Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, “Best is best.”
Let’s all do our best, and then let go!