Tag Archives: Blog

On Perfectionism (and Timing)

Carpet makers in Turkey weave a mistake into every carpet they produce - because, they say, only what God makes is perfect.

Carpet makers in Turkey weave a mistake into every carpet they produce because, they say, only what God makes is perfect.

A friend was trying to finish his novel.

‘So many grammatical errors,’ he moaned.  ‘So many mistakes.’

He worked so hard that he wept.  It would never be perfect.  It would never be good enough.

All this effort, two days before he was due to be married.

There is perfectionism, and there is timing.

Perfectionism is a disease I suffer from myself.  It has blocked me for years.  Nothing can ever be good enough.

I set my standards so high, I never fail to fail.  And then I look at what I have failed to do, and tell myself I am useless, and that I will never finish anything.  Without noticing (conveniently) that I have set myself up for the perfect fall.

I am perfect at this.

So it is with this blog.  It had to be perfect.  It had to be faultless.

Never mind that I have a serious chronic illness that regularly prevents me from leaving the house, which affects my cognitive function to the extent that at times I can neither read nor write, nor understand what is said to me.

The blog still had to be perfect.  And I had to post three times a week.  Regardless.

Regardless of my health, or looking after elderly, sick parents, or my husband’s workload, or my marriage, or the weather, or having to attend friends’ weddings, or making time for much-needed holidays, or anything else that comprises having a life.

Add in the blog and perfectionism and you have a recipe for disaster.  Or at least a very poorly blogger.

This is as insane as my friend trying to perfect his novel two days before one of the most important and stressful days of his life.  (And happiest, lest we forget.)

Sometimes, you have to sit down and recognise that perfectionism is a disease created by Nigel.  Sometimes you have to stop, and realise you haven’t been very realistic about what you can achieve.

And you have to move the bar.

Perfectionism and timing have combined to create the perfect storm in my life right now.  I have been going through a bout of severe illness, and just at the start of August, the busiest month of my year so far.  My mother is coming to stay for a week.  Friends are getting married, and babies are being welcomed into the clan.  The garden needs watering, and I have a craving to write original fiction that I have not felt in many months.  With limited energy, and limited time, I can only do so much.

Conclusion:  this blog cannot be perfect.  It only has to be good enough.

It only has to be here to encourage you, dear reader, on your own journey of writing and creative discovery.  It only has to be witness to my own creative process, as I try to navigate a way through illness and into producing a novel that will make my soul sing, and make you turn the page with delight.  It doesn’t need to be the be-all and end-all of teaching writing – there are plenty of other people who can do that so much better than me.

Here are my good enough dreams:

I want to write that novel.  I want to write an ebook on journaling for you, too.

WARNING: RIDICULOUS DREAM SHARE ALERT

I want to make a collectors’ edition of my novel, illustrated with my own art, for you to buy.  Yes, I know, it’s crazy, but it’s something that is calling me, and somehow I know I have to follow its siren song.  And you are supposed to share your creative dreams, aren’t you, to help make them happen?  So I am sharing my dream with you to give it some karmic weight.  (Yeah, I believe in this stuff.  Bear with me.)

I also want to be well, have a holiday, enjoy some quality time with my mum, have a happy marriage (i.e. see my husband occasionally), water the garden and, well, have a life, really.

And I don’t want either perfectionism or bad timing to get in the way.

So I’ll make a deal with you:

I’m going to blog twice a week, instead of three times.

Sometimes I might only manage once, but if I do, I want you to know that the time I haven’t spent writing a blog post for you has been spent either a) getting well or, b) working on a creative project like my novel.  Because the blog can’t take up all my creative energy.  That just doesn’t make sense.  The blog is not the purpose, it is secondary to the purpose.  The purpose is the writing.

There was a time, this time last year, when I thought I would never have the courage to set up this blog.  Right now, I am scared that I will never have either an ebook or a novel to offer through it.  This time next year, I hope I’ll have proved at least one of those fears wrong.  In the meantime, I am moving the goalposts, lowering the bar, and whatever other clichés you care to insert.

I hope that you will stick with me.  I hope that you will share my journey, and tell me about yours too.  I hope that we can learn this together, that we can kick Nigel into touch and fill our lives with creative joy.

Happy creating,

EF

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Outflow: What the **** am I doing?

new study deskYou may have noticed that yesterday was Wednesday and that it was eerily quiet here at Evenlode’s Friend.  Oops.

Its not that I wasn’t thinking of you, believe me.  Its just that, well, I won’t go into too much sordid detail here, but there are some stomach complaints that leave little room for writing blog posts.  Yes, I was ill. I still am.  I’ve been hit by a particularly nasty bout of IBS, and its going to take some time to settle things down again.

But of course, because I never do anything by halves, my darling husband is having a couple of days off right now and decided, for a whole bunch of really complicated reasons, that it would be a great idea for us to switch offices.  Yes, while I am ill.  No, he did not expect me to help move the furniture.  So now he has the north-facing back room, and I have the sunny, and much larger, front room with the sofabed-futon thingey to lounge on.  I suspect I may have got the best end of the deal, don’t you?

This brilliant wheeze unfortunately has its down side.  Evenlode OPs Centre now looks like a cross between a bad jumble sale and the aftermath of Chernobyl.  Major purge, rethink and planning are urgently required.  (Shame my brain is on illness-induced sabbatical, but there we are.)

new study messThis is not entirely a bad thing, however.  I need to be systematic about everything right now, and the study change is just the external materialisation of the internal mess I am in.  Because it turns out that this blogging thing is much harder than it looks, and I am going to have to be a lot more organised than I thought.  I can’t just fire off a post for this blog in half and hour from a standing start, as I do with my personal blog, because its not that kind of site.  I want my readers to be informed, and that means my research has to be spot on and my posts thorough and thoughtful.  I need to write ahead, and I haven’t worked out how I can do that and juggle my health issues and life at the same time.  I think its good, on the whole, to reassess what you are doing periodically, but I’ve never been one for planning systematically how to do something, as the state of my desk drawers unvariably show.

Yes, its cosmic learning time!

So, today’s Outflow is about two things, redesigning my work area, and planning my work method.  I must be mindful about what I’m going to need and the issues I am going to have to plan for, like not being well enough to write on a posting day.  I’m going to need a workspace that supports me, with all the tools for writing, painting, planning and running this little endeavour within easy reach.  And its got to be easy to keep tidy and organised because I am crap at being neat and perversely, as a Libran, I don’t like working in a messy, ugly space.  In this way, writing a blog isn’t any different from my other creative work, my writing and painting.  It just has to be more systematic and focussed.

If you keep a blog, I would love to know how you organise yourself ahead, and plan your posts.  And if, like me, you are lovingly embarking on making a new creative nest for yourself, I would love to hear about that too.  Please leave a reply (the tag appears at the top of each post for some reason, thats another design issue on my blog To Do list!) and maybe we can do a compendium post of all the shared ideas and wonderful ‘Rooms of Our Own’.

Happy Creating,

EF

Outflow: Sticking to the Vision

Shadow Selfie

I have a confession to make.  When I started this blog, I was all business-like.  I made an editorial calendar, and wrote down what I was going to post and when.  I made plans.  I’ve got a really scrummy notebook full of notes on what I am going to write for you.  I researched it all for months.

Because this is what you do.

Professional.  Business-like.

All the things I am not.

It was a huge emotional step to start the site.  It took months to work up the courage to put myself ‘out there’, and I guess you could say that a lot of the research I did was just procrastination – I can’t do it till I know all about x.  And then, when I did it, and go it going, I wondered what the fuss had been all about.

And then the SHOULDs came home to roost.

You do what you think you ought to do, and then somewhere along the way it becomes a chore, a SHOULD.  The only SHOULD there is right now is this one:  I SHOULD have known.  Because if there is one thing I have learnt about myself in this life, its this:

Nothing gets done if it ain’t fun.

I missed my ‘Journal Friday’ post last week, partly because life caught up with me, partly because I was not well (long story), and partly because I realised that it had become a SHOULD, and I didn’t know what to do about it.  And then I found this, my Vision Statement for the site:

“The purpose of Evenlodesfriend.com is:

  • To empower other people to improve their writing, to enjoy and rejoice in their own creativity, and to claim their lives as writers regardless of whether they have been published or not.
  • To promote the idea of writing as a healing process and a psychological tool for wellbeing that anyone can use – and to give readers the confidence to use it.
  • To bring my own writing to others for their enjoyment, for my own voice and independence.”

And it occurred to me that I need to take this as seriously for myself as I would for you.  Which means recognising that part of my creativity is spontaneous outflowing.  Something from the Heart.  My Heart.

So sometimes I plan to break out of the editorial calendar and spread my wings a bit.  Sometimes I will share with you about how my writing is going, what problems I am up against, ideas that I have come across, things I am interested in.  I hope that you will get to know me better (and I know I will get to know me better!).  I hope that you will know I am going through the same struggles as you are.  We are all in this Creativity Boat together. (Actually, I may need to do a cartoon on that, possibly with owls and pussycats included!)

So welcome to a new phase at Evenlodesfriend.  You will get your Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts, I promise.  But I hope you will get a bit more, maybe a bit of reality too.

With all my love and Best Wishes,

Evenlode’s Friend.