I'm not a perfectionist. Truly. I don't scream if my spices aren't alphabetized or if someone changes the order of how the cds line up. I don't vacuum everyday. (Although that just may make me a sloppy housekeeper.) I don't hit the roof if my kids' bedrooms aren't magazine-perfect. But when it comes to my writing? This is when my heavily cloaked perfectionist pulls off her hood, opens her mouth and screams at the top of her lungs. It's somewhat off-putting.
When I was still running my theatre company, we had a motto: Good enough isn't good enough. This applied to everything; the sets, the costumes, the music, not to mention (let's hope) the acting and the directing. This motto seems engraved on my soul and I've realized its reverberations are what's holding me back from finishing my manuscript.
I've read so much from so many of you about finishing that first draft and worrying about the mess later. First drafts are supposed to be ugly; that's why they're the first drafts and not the final drafts. Intellectually, I understand this. Putting it into practice is something else entirely.
To my credit, I am taking baby steps. Writing which would have perished under the almighty power of the delete key (bless its heart) now sits unsullied. I'll get to it later, on the second go-through. I'm beginning to forgive myself for not writing perfectly immediately. Beginning. I so desperately want this manuscript to be good that I want it good right now. I want to be able to read my pages and have the urge to pat myself on the back, not the urge to slam my head through the wall.
I like writing this manuscript. I like my plots and my characters. I like that it's a challenge. I do not like not meeting my own expectations. I refuse to lower them, so I'm learning to have patience.
This first draft is the first rehearsal. No one expects an opening night performance at the first rehearsal (or they shouldn't anyway!) Good enough isn't good enough. Words to aspire to. Let's see how I feel when I get to the final dress rehearsal. I'm hoping my motto will be well-served.