Unwritten Perfection

I would like to find a point and get to it.

“There’s the trouble,” says my muse and friend. “You always think you can find the point before you write it. You’ve just got to write yourself to the point and then cut away everything that doesn’t lead there. You’re like Flannery O Conner sometimes, eh? ‘I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.'”

But it’s not that I can’t find a point. It’s that I find too many. Should I review a book? Should I talk about writing? Should I talk about life? Or games, or art, or work, or–anything! Anything is so much, so big. I can’t pick just one.

“And when your mind lands on anything–including a prompt given you by someone else–it is immediately dismissed as not good enough.” He rolls his eyes. “Come, girl. Better a shoddy something than a perfect nothing.”

My heart disagrees, and he knows it.

“An unwritten blog post can be perfect, can’t it?” he says sympathetically. “It’s witty, it’s relevant, it’s from the heart, it’s helpful. It’s got the perfect words and the perfect format. It’s insightful, and it makes people think. Like. Comment their thoughts. Share it with their friends, and provoke ripples of thought and attention that spread out from there. It’s edgy, perhaps, as is everything that invites thought. The unwritten blog post, the unwritten story, the uncreated creation–it’s always so fresh and original, yet resonates secret strings in every human heart. So perfect. But you know what’s wrong with it?”

I can’t post it?

“That,” he agrees. “And worse than that. You can’t create it.” He puts an imagined hand atop my head. “Creation is an incredible act, whether or not the results are ever shown to another–even if they’re never fit to be shown to another, they are so much more magnificent than unwritten perfection.”

My heart still disagrees. I’ve seen so much posted and published that should not be. My standards are high. He knows, and presses on.

“Hear me. Not only does unwritten perfection have no chance to touch another–it has no chance even to touch you.”

My heart wavers at that, and he presses the advantage.

“Creator, you must create. Writer, you must write. Even if it’s unworthy, unwitty, irrelevant, and unhelpful, even if it’s so far from perfect it makes you cringe, you must make it–if only to change yourself.”

My heart concedes. My muse always wins, in the end.

“Now. Your blog piece. Will you post this, or will you write another?”

I consider, reading back through my silent debate. I’m not sure if it’s witty. I’m rarely sure, right after I’ve written a thing. I don’t know if these are the best words or format. That’s just what happened. Worthy? I don’t know. It’s certainly not perfect. But it’s from the heart. And unlike my dream-post, it’s here, in black and white, unfolding before my eyes.

I read it over again. At least now I know what I think. I think it might even be relevant, and helpful. But it would be safer, wouldn’t it, to post something in keeping with one of my usual formats? What if someone finds this pretentious? Or insincere? Gimmicky? Maybe I should write something else. I’m sure I can, now.

“No one can criticize an un-posted post,” my muse says languidly, pretending not to look at me. “It’s public reception is, theoretically, perfect.”

I grimace. Fine. I’ll post it.




  1. “But it’s not that I can’t find a point. It’s that I find too many. Should I review a book? Should I talk about writing? Should I talk about life? Or games, or art, or work, or–anything! Anything is so much, so big. I can’t pick just one.”

    No way! These are exactly my thoughts! How did you explain this even better!?

    1. Gah, it troubles me so often! I think it’s a common problem among bloggers. My muse keeps telling me that I just have to start typing words, and then keep going.

      This conversation in my head didn’t even seem like the “best” thing to pick, but I buckled down and kept writing it because he wouldn’t let me stop until I’d finished it, whether it was best or not.

      1. P.S. Sorry, if I’m troubling but I’ve nominated you for this award-thing (LIEBSTER AWARD) at my blog. 🙂 (apologies in advance if you’ve already done this)

  2. Love. Let me introduce you, if you don’t know her already, to Ann Patchett: ““For me it’s like this: I make up a novel in my head (there will be more about this later). This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process. The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling… This book I have not yet written one word of is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life. It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.

    And so I do. When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing — all the color, the light and movement — is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s my book.”

    1. Oi vey. Brutally magnificent. I don’t believe I’ve read anything of hers, but a quick googling shows intriguing titles, and this excerpt shows that the woman knows her way through the word-woods.

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