5th May 2020
On the one hand it is such a straight forward word. We can all understand more or less what it means and probably have images and ideas that we attribute and personify it with. On the other hand, will we ever truly attain it or understand it in all its capacity? It is at once a mangificent, transcendent concept that is not limited by fallable things while also being a concept equated with excellence and all that is wonderful. As a creative person – a writer, doodler, sketcher, dreamer – it is a double-edged sword that I hold in between my fingers when I try to create.
I want to do the best that I can at any given moment when I am creating something. I take up my perfectionism and prepare to fight my paper battles with it. But silly me, I hold it like a pen and expect it to fulfill the same purpose. At first it cuts cleanly and I am satisfied with its initial strokes. But as I press it further my fingers begin to sting and suddenly I can do no more and go no further for the pain and blood besmirch my work. But the blood is clear and I don’t see it. I return after a time and go back to gripping the blade. I will adjust its angle and polish it a little in the hopes that my block is only temporary.
This gets me nowhere. It is unpleasant for my creative hands and heart as it is for the utensil that I am misusing.
Perfection should only be an inspiration. Something to work towards. Not the focus of the journey itself, nor the tool we use to create. Creativity should happen for creativity’s sake. Refinement will come later. Perfection, I believe, we may only catch glimpses of. We will never know it in its fullness within this life. To try and force it and live in fear of anything which does not attain it is only detrimental. Even writing this post I must try and quench my desire to over-edit and analyse. To keep this little piece of writing locked up as a dusty draft that may never see the light of day. I feel a little bit like a mad scientist who hides the chimeras he has created rather than allowing them to live freely because he is disappointed that they are not perfect creations. He is so busy looking to make an idealised prototype which exists only in his mind that he won’t take a moment to notice and nurture the curiosity and quirks in the creatures he has already given life to.
I need to learn to put down the sword and take up the pen or pencil. They are entirely different tools whose essence is built upon smudges, scribbles, strike-throughs and lines that might not be in the right place. The sword of perfection will ultimately lead to nothing more than torn paper and bloody fingers if I try and create with it, instead of mounting it on my wall and looking to it for inspiration while accepting the fallibility of my own being and all that I create.
This little rant was inspired by ‘The Trouble with Imitation‘ by Abigail Hartman