21 February 2011

The Perfect and the Real

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.
~ John Henry Newman

What is it they say about good intentions? They make up the pavers on the road to Hell...yes, I know that one. Or maybe I am thinking of the best laid plans of mice and men? Well, anyway. It is always my intention and my resolution, to write more. Such a broad goal. What does it really mean, to write more? I certainly have been writing more personal letters and I journal quite a bit.

But usually when I state that I wish to write more, I mean in the public forum. Either here or having a fiction or non-fiction piece published. Yet weeks go by and there is. . . .nothing. Silence. A blank page. The pen waits to be picked up and goes dry in the waiting. Yet, like Lord Byron, I must write or go mad. So why the empty space?

Perfectionism is the mortar of writers' block. I do not obsess over proper grammar or words spelled correctly. Those are necessary to give form and structure to beauty and thought, but that is what Sullivan and other editors are for. Instead, I agonize over word paintings, the perfect analogy, a poetic turn of phrase, whether a line is a good "hook" for my readers.

Even more, I wonder about my readers. Will they "get it?" Translation: will they "get" me? As with all artists, the writer pours himself out in his art ~ there in bloody black and white for all to see. Once the words are on the page and published, there is no going back. Est quid est. Perhaps it is just me, but I believe that iNtuitive Feelers such as myself suffer more from this angst than other personality types. Somehow, we cannot divorce our art from ourselves.

This means that our art flows directly from our soul. It is real. It is painful. It is achingly beautiful. But it is truly our blood and bone, heart and sinew. And so if we fail to reach someone; if the observer fails to "get" us or the beauty or idea we are trying to convey, it is like singing in a darkened theatre. You put everything into your performance and the lights go on afterwards and instead of the attentive audience you thought was there, there is only empty space. Or worse, empty stares. I would prefer open and engaging criticism of my art rather than an blank indifference or mere tolerance. Neither engages the artist or the art he creates. It negates him and his gift.

Yet, for all that, to be real, to be authentic, is the most important thing for this artist. To shy away neither from the morbid, the painful, the brokenness, the wounds, nor the ecstasy, the joy, and the sheer love of being. And if some cannot understand, cannot hear the song or are indifferent to its beauty or obsessed with its imperfections, I cannot stop. I must continue to ply my art and hope that beauty that is real and imperfect and quirky will light the fire of warmth and illumination in some soul.

Here's to that great intention of writing more and overcoming my obsession with perfection.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela