I don’t have many flaws; I’m beautiful, smart, compassionate, have a massive vocabulary and I can eat a giant bucket of KFC without ever getting sick. People look at me and think: “That girl just has it all. Style, flair, wit and enough sex appeal to make Brad Pitt pick up a phone in the middle of the night and give her a call.” I know this because I can also read people’s mind with surprising accuracy. It’s hard to believe but I really am that amazing.
When you take a minute think about it, you realize how impressive it is that in the face of my own flawless perfection I’ve managed to remain such a humble soul. I’m not a person who writes blogs to tell the entire world how amazing I am, nor do I feel the need to send a dozen tweets into the webosphere every single time I sneeze rainbows and fart roses.
Instead of becoming an intolerable douche bag, I like to think I’ve kept myself grounded, honest and approachable. One of the ways I do that, is by trying to blend in. For instance, sometimes I pretend to make a mistake so everyone else doesn’t feel so intimidated by my greatness. Like this one time when I was six I cut my own hair and let’s just say I could have done a better job at it. And the other day, I pretended to not be able to do maths in my head because I mix up the numbers and they make no sense because who decided 1+1=2 anyway?
Oh, and there was this one time… Never mind, I won’t go into that, because you possibly just had dinner and I don’t want to make you feel sick.
But let’s be honest, for a minute – weren’t you honest already, Janneke. You incredible beacon of humanity, you shining light of perfection, you Goddess of humility and decency? – First of all, I don’t appreciate your sarcasm. It’s not very becoming on someone who doesn’t really exist and I’m making up as I’m typing this.
What, I meant every single word I said. I’m sure that if you are ever less than perfect, it is only on purpose to make us ‘lesser people’ not feel so insignificant.
Exactly. I’m glad you get me. It’s almost like you are part of me and also read everything I said above.
I did and I am. And I am here to tell you that you have problem and should see a doctor.
Enough about you, let’s talk about me some more.
But if I’m only pretending that I am far from perfect, I am very good at it. I am arrogant, selfish and I don’t think I can actually eat a bucket of KFC without being violently ill. In fact, my own imperfection keeps me up at night. I always feel like I should be better, different, kinder and less guarded. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few indicators in my childhood as to why that is, but that’s not the point right now.
The point it that I constantly have this need to be better. Not so much better than everyone else, because let’s face it, there are few opinions and people I care more about than my own and myself.
No, I feel like I should be better than I am… Which is a fucking pain in my ass. Because I’ll spend forever going over everything I said and did and how I should have said and could’ve done it better. I know this is the same for every person, and it is how we learn. But I have a harder time letting things go. In some cases it will take me years to get over insignificant mistakes. I will feel this dumb shame and doubt in disproportionate amounts long after the fact, which is just silly.
On some levels I guess it makes me actually be a better person and act with some more respect and kindness. Even though I sometimes like to have some peace from myself and my constant feeling I should be better somehow; I don’t think it is always such a bad think to chastise yourself and try to be a better, kinder, more open-minded person.
Except when I’m writing; because all of the sudden the endless analyzing and perfectionism becomes the worst fucking habit to have.
Don’t you think it’s good to be critical and strive for the best, Janneke?
Thanks for interrupting me, you dick. But to answer your question… Sure it is, but it’s just not very helpful to jump right into self-loathing and doubt when you’re just one page in to a story or a script. Things evolve organically after a long process of writing and re-writing, and I sometimes expect things to be perfect right from the start. Which pushes me time and again in the habit to start rewriting when there is barely anything to rewrite. I will start sculpting the fine lines, without ever hewing out the general shape of the thing.
And this is an almost impossible way to work, because without knowing the general shape, how do you know where the fine lines and details actually go? You can’t build a cathedral without first setting up a solid foundation (and everything I do of course has the grandeur and beauty and eternity similar to Cathédrale de Chartres)
So, while you may feel like you are making things better by just jumping in straight away, going back and fixing every single issue, you just end up going in smaller and smaller circles until you run into yourself, screaming and shouting and wondering why you are so incompetent. — Almost as though you are talking to yourself on your own blog? —
Almost like that.
Except here I don’t care. I can do whatever I want. I can talk to myself, I can talk to imaginary readers, I can pretend to be anyone and anything. It doesn’t matter. These blogs help me unwind, that is the only point there is to them. I don’t care too much about them. Here I have nothing to prove, not to myself and not to the world. These posts just exist. I barely rewrite them. I just type, press send and never look back. They are like mindless scribbles and sketches build from words. They are often a mess, either structurally or just poorly worded…and let’s not even start talking about the content… :)
That people enjoy them in spite of that is a giant compliment, and it does give me enormous joy. I’m not being callous when I say that I don’t care about this blog. I mean that I don’t care about it as much as I care about my actual writing projects. But for better or worse, this blog is helping me grow and develop myself. It has helped me find and improve my natural writing voice, taught me how to write jokes and how to come up with better metaphors and mostly it has helped me to not care so much about every single word I write.
Perfection is in the whole, not in every single nuance. You can have some rough edges and poorly structured sentences, as long as it all adds up to something interesting (and if not, at least I have plenty of pictures of upside down dogs and baby pandas to keep you entertained. Because in the end nothing is better than that and cats in cardigans)
So these days, I find it much easier to write on my actual projects, because I just don’t care so much about it being perfect right now. I am more interested in setting up the broad strokes first. In fact, I am much more interested in finishing something for a change, without becoming discouraged or hating myself for being such a failure.
And while I’m now 20,000 words into a story that is barely holding together at the seams; because I’m making things up as I go along, I am desperately trying to accept it the way it is and defy the temptation to rewrite. Every inch of my body and mind is begging me to do it, to just brush up the logical fallacies, I’ll promise to leave the grammatical errors and spelling mistakes aside (some of them are hilarious. I might share them some day), I’m not giving in to the feeling.
Yes, I may have a character recalling something in chapter 1, which is impossible because I kill him off in chapter 3. It doesn’t really matter. Because in the long run, the story isn’t about him. And it’s an easy fix. I know it is there, and once I am done I’ll go back to it and fix it. It’s not part of the narrative, so for now I’m ignoring it and just typing away.
I’m somewhere at a pace between 500 and a 1000 words a day, and so far I’m only speeding up; because I have embraced the messiness, and decided that whatever happens, things will be fine. There will be a rewrite at some point, when I know what the story exactly is. For now, I’ll just let my hands do the typing, write without judgement, and let the words pour out of me.
They might be terrible words, but they aren’t meant to be Shakespeare (because I don’t think I can be both that poetic and boring at the same time). They are rough, ugly and messy, but they are mine.
And if they are anything like me, one day they will pretend to be absolutely perfect.