Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hitting Send and the Liberating Power of "Good Enough"

Time spent writing: Yesterday was a really good day
What I did: Did I mention how on task I was yesterday?
Grade for the day: See above



I "hit send" on an article yesterday.

I did the happy dance--or at least a happy dance. Have you ever seen me dance? I hope not. It's not very happy looking. Or dancey for that matter.

Still, hitting send was liberating. But that feeling soon turned to terror. For a brief moment, I felt joy. But then it was right back to terror.

For starters, I'm sure that there are messy sentences and glaring typos in the essay. Nothing needles at me more than my own stylistic failings. No matter how many times I proofread something I miss stuff. Then when a reader finds a typo, I can feel them asserting their moral superiority over me.I mean, heck, that's what I do when I'm a reader.
YOUR ENTIRE ARGUMENT HAS NO MERIT BECAUSE YOU WROTE "TO" INSTEAD OF "TOO"! HOW DO YOUR CHILDREN LOOK AT YOU?!? STRUNK AND WHITE VOMIT IN DISGUST! YOU HAVE NO ELEMENTS OF STYLE!!!!!!

Anyway...

There is also all of the brilliant ideas that are just now coming to me. Today I was raking leaves (because I hit send yesterday--don't judge), and I remembered a detail that would have been a total mic drop. But I didn't include it. So I kept raking leaves, while other omission bombs went off in my head.

Moments like these are pretty much everyday occurrences with me. I can obsess about stuff that doesn't even exist--you know, like "my future" and creepy clowns.

But there is another reason to fret.

I wrote the article for a collection that my friend Ray Haberski is assembling on civil religion. We have an ongoing conversation about how this unique category needs to be re-framed and re-branded for the future. I was content just writing Facebook rants about it, but Ray went ahead and did something. Plus, next month, all of the authors are traveling out to Indianapolis to talk through our submissions.

This means that other people will be reading my essay soon. I actually cite a few of them--favorably, I think. Still, I can't escape thinking about everyone sitting around a table and someone saying to me something along the lines of...


So hitting send brings to the surface all of those nagging doubts that I carry with me wherever I go and whatever I do.

But hitting send also moves things along. It clears space on my desk. It liberates me to take on whatever is next on my "list."

My wife and I like to remind ourselves that with stuff like this, it's not about getting everything perfect. It's about getting everything "good enough." That's sage advice for writing. It's sage advice for life.

Speaking of which, these leaves aren't going to rake themselves.

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