Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Fighting the Demon

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:29 am

Show up at the page. That’s what they say. If you just show up and start writing, you will never be short on ideas. Here I am at the page. I have shown up. Where’s my idea? Do I just spend the entire entry talking about having nothing to talk about? No, that’s not good enough.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.  – Woody Allen (1935 – )

It’s not like I don’t have anything to talk about. I know exactly why I’m blocked. I’m staring the Demon of Perfection in the face again, and I even know from whence he spawned this time. I have a friend who has a son who is in need of letters. This happens often in Salt Lake City. There are so many women who have sons on horrific LDS missions that need letters, that this plea is common to me. I’ve written to many strangers, just because they need input from HOME. This situation is different because the son is not on a mission, but that is of no importance.

I don’t confuse greatness with perfection. To be great anyhow is?the higher achievement.  – Lois McMaster Bujold, “Mirror Dance”, 1994

How do you write a letter to a stranger? I usually just talk about myself and describe the weather at HOME. When I tried to write that letter, however, it sounded superficial and trite. He is in such a predicament that the weather at home isn’t foremost in his mind. I found myself trying desperately to write the letter that I promised and came up short. I kept staring at the blank page. Then I remembered.

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.  – Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863)

I remembered that I write a letter to strangers every day. Every day I sit down at the computer and hack out a letter to the world. I could just print up the last few entries that I had written and send them to him. The last few entries included the epilogue for Calvin, though, so I thought maybe I should send back to where Calvin’s story started. Hell, if I was going to go back that far, I might as well just send him from the beginning in September.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.  – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 – 1944)

After printing up fifty-two pages of text, I came to terms with what it means to show up at the page every day. It meant that I had written a heck of a lot and I didn’t like most of it. Just as I’ve said before, my weblog isn’t the kind that I would like to read, so I caught myself being incredibly critical of my entries before I had even sent them to him. He’s dealing with some major shit right now and I don’t think he’s going to care one wit about whether the sparrows fly past my window. I sent the entire thing anyway.

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.  – Dr. David M. Burns

Now, here I am, staring the Demon in the face again. Back in 1998, he won. This time, he doesn’t have a chance. I’m just going to show up at the page every day. I know that there are twenty people in this world who like this enough to log on every day. I don’t know their names, but they log in every day. They read my blog at work. They download my blog onto their Palm. If I’m late and don’t post until 11 am or so, they keep hitting my site until it finally shows up. Whatever it is that you like about this site is going to keep showing up here every day, whether I think it’s worthy or not.


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