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Perfectionism Will Only Drive You Mad

May 11, 2010

I’ve started reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  Reading her words feels like she is summing up my life.  Only, she makes me sound a lot more interesting.

As I was reading, I began filling up my little notebook with quotes from her book that stood out to me, in some way.  Like, shiny-yellow beacons, hailing me to come just a little closer.  To examine all of the cracks, peaks and valleys that make up the inner workings of my mind.  Sometimes I am afraid of what I’ll find there. Painful memories that are hiding in deep, dark recesses; shrinking back from the light. Fearing exposure.  Fearing the truth.

“Good writing is about telling the truth.”  That is the very first quote I captured in my little notebook.  The way I see it, truth is a powerful thing.  It shines a light on the lies.  Calls them out, and demands restitution.  Seems to me, that truth is never to be taken lightly.  It is a responsibility.  Maybe, even a burden.


I am trying desperately, to become a better writer.  I have in mind so many stories that want to be told, but are nothing more than swirling pipe-dreams, beating down on all of my synapses.  What really holds me back, though, is fear.  Fear of dreaming another life for myself.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of failure.

Fear is a one way street that doubles back on itself.  No matter how many times you travel its path, you will always end up where you started.

Fear is another word for perfectionism.  They’re like linking verbs; attaching one to the other in a way that can’t be separated.

Ugh!  I sound like I’m writing definitions for Merriam-Webster. Bad ones.   Sigh…

I’m going to quit while I’m ahead, and close with two quotes from Anne Lamott, that I loved:

“Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend.”

“Perfectionism, on the other hand, will only drive you mad.”

I couldn’t have said that last one, better myself.

Until next time…


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2010 4:56 am

    Wow….girl… are incredible!
    This is fhe first time I’ve read your blog. You are such a great communicator!
    So glad you’re reading Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” That is one of my top ten favorite books I’ve ever read! I love her style and honesty and bluntness. My other favorite book about writing is by Stephen King, entitled “On Writing.” Yes, THAT Stephen King….very insightful and helpful and practical.
    Blessings upon your mind and your creative hand and putting your thoughts into words and sharing them with all of us.

    • Michelle Notwithstanding permalink*
      May 12, 2010 5:19 pm

      Stephen King’s book, is next on my list. :)
      And, thank you for your words of encouragement. They came at the perfect time!

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