This week I am participating in National Picture Book Writing Week. The challenge is to write a picture book manuscript rough draft each day for seven days. Each day! For seven days! So far, I’m two manuscripts in. The first one is…a rough draft. When I say rough, I mean Al-Can Highway rough. If you’ve never traveled on the Al-Can, allow me to clue you in. When I say it’s rough, I mean jarring-marring-clangy-bangy-hold-on-to-your-hat-and-pray-a-rock-doesn’t-bounce-up-and-break-your-rear-window-or-your-headlights rough (yep, that happened to us. We even lost our “I survived the Alaskan Highway” bumper sticker in the melee).
My first manuscript is rough. It’s quite possible it has no potential whatsoever as child entertainment and enlightenment. But I wrote it, and that’s all that matters in this context…and in so many others.
My second manuscript is actually pretty fine. I’m proud of it. Excited about it. I e-mailed it to my daughter for feedback.
When I started writing yesterday, I didn’t know that I would end up with an extremely rough draft. When I started writing today, I didn’t know I would end up with a fairly spiffy final product. That’s the thing with art; and really, with life. All we can do is bring our best effort to the table. Sometimes the fairy dust gets sprinkled in and we stand back amazed. Sometimes, we end up with a wilted, scraggly, anemic attempt. Sometimes we fail SPECTACULARLY. Been there, done that.
For a perfectionist, for a people-pleaser, the fear can be debilitating. If everything I do must be perfect, then I’m going to be disabled by the fear of failure. How fun is it to live life like that?
When my children were small, we often had to encourage them to attempt new things. Walking, running, playing sports, learning to read, learning to play a musical instrument; these things seemed impossibly challenging at one time. The more they practiced, the easier the skills became, until they were effortless. No one expects perfection of little children learning new skills; we are silly and a bit egotistical if we expect continual perfection of ourselves, especially when learning new or difficult tasks.
I’ve been pushing myself to do hard things lately: messy things, creative things. I’ve been dabbling in art: I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it, so I’ve given myself permission to dabble away, to paint, draw, color, take pictures. I’m trying to write more.
Is there something you dream of doing or being? Stop being afraid. Perfection is your enemy; fear is not your friend. Go dream big dreams and live the life you’re too timid to attempt. What are you waiting for?
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18