I recently read a paragraph in Ann Patchett’s The Getaway Car that articulated something I’ve been struggling to express (which is exactly what I’m often looking for when I read).
The pattern is something I noticed when I tried to write my maid of honor speech* for my best friend’s wedding last Fall and as I procrastinated writing the final paper for a class at UCLA: the gap between what I feel capable of writing and what I want so badly to express is more than I think I can cross. And it terrifies me to even try which is compounded by the fear that I won't try when actually it's something that I MUST do.
Ann Patchett thinks this very gap is what keeps most people from writing and she says the key is forgiveness. I guess forgiving ourselves for not already being as amazing as we think we should be.
Ira Glass said pretty much the same thing, and so encouragingly.
This gap is definitely true of the blog I want to have versus the blog I’m able to create right now. If nothing else, because I don’t want to start at the beginning with a sprinkling of first blog posts and have to build up to something that feels substantive. (Interestingly, I could avoid this by reviving an old blog, but I feel more excited about starting anew.)
I have to let myself create across the gap. Start where I am. And endure the discomfort of imperfection, of beginning. I was talking, i.e. texting, with a friend the other day about how charming a crooked smile can be. And we said it’s such a good reminder of why perfectionism is pointless -- perfect is never charming.
It also reminds me of how I feel when I see a really beautiful movie, something French or Indie, and the heroine is not perfect. She’s beautiful, but there’s something flawed about her too, mussed up and rumpled. And that makes her even more lovely. I always come out of those movies believing, momentarily, that maybe I can be lovely in my own way even if there are circles under my eyes and my nose is crooked. I’m not there yet, but at least it’s a notion?
So I’m here and trying to see the charm in a flawed baby blog.
*Sidenote: I did try to write that speech, mostly because I had to. And despite my anxiety in the days leading up to it, I poured out enough of my life force energy that it was the best I could do. I mouthed the words silently to myself all day as we primped in the bridal suite and waited to have our photographs taken. And by the time I stood up to clink my fork against my crystal champagne glass, with my voice shaking and my eyes filling, I said what I most wanted to say about my friends and their love and what it taught me. People I didn't know came up to me for the rest of the night and told me how much they loved it. And that felt great, but what felt even better was that I gathered up the courage to cross the gap and do what I needed to do. And my hope is that every time I do that, the fear will shrink ever so slightly, or I'll be ever so slightly less frozen in the face of it.