Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity – Part One

Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott’s Timeless Advice on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity

pt 1 bird by bird

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.

I started writing when I was seven or eight. I was very shy and strange-looking, loved reading above everything else, weighed about forty pounds at the time, and was so tense that I walked around with my shoulders up to my ears, like Richard Nixon. I saw a home movie once of a birthday party I went to in the first grade, with all these cute little boys and girls playing together like puppies, and all of a sudden I scuttled across the screen like Prufrock’s crab. I was very clearly the one who was going to grow up to be a serial killer, or

pt 1 6 birds on a log in a row

keep dozens and dozens of cats. Instead, I got funny. I got funny because boys, older boys I didn’t even know, would ride by on their bicycles and taunt me about my weird looks. Each time felt like a drive-by shooting. I think this is why I walked like Nixon: I think I was trying to plug my ears with my shoulders, but they wouldn’t quite reach. So first I got funny and then I started to write, although I did not always write funny things.

[…]

All I ever wanted was to belong, to wear that hat of belonging.

In seventh and eighth grades I still weighed about forty pounds. I was twelve years old and had been getting teased about my strange looks for most of my life. This is a difficult country to look too different in — the United States of Advertising, as Paul Krassner puts it — and if you are too skinny or too tall or dark or weird or short or frizzy or homely or poor or nearsighted, you get crucified. I did.

Writing is “…some sort of creative or spiritual or aesthetic way of seeing the world and organizing it in your head.”

“…the thrill of seeing oneself in print,” – highest form of existential validation.

I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all what it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

[…]

pt 6 3 owls on a tree branch

David Bowie. 1947-2016

It’s a shock to lose David Bowie. He was too young to leave now. – jk <3

Off the Rails - Track 451

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I grew up on the genius of David Bowie. Indeed, I played my cassette of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars so often it wound up spliced and respliced until it finally wore through. In music, film, fashion, life, he was as if from another realm entirely. His chiseled androgyny served as both lure and challenge, as he capered across the cultural landscape, forever reinventing himself, pushing boundaries with an eerie prescience.

Many words far better than mine will be written about Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane/The Thin White Duke/Regular Dude, et al., and his profound influence on the creative world of the past 50 years. So I won’t ramble. For now, let David Bowie’s work speak.

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Fly high and thank you. What gifts you gave us all.

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Remembrance: Marcel Proust – Part 20

Remembrance: Marcel Proust

Moments from
“Remembrance of Things Past”

Marcel-Proust

“Pleasures are like photographs:
in the presence of the person we love,
we take only negatives,
which we develop later,
at home,
when we have at our disposal
once more our inner dark room,
the door of which
it is strictly forbidden
to open while others are present.”

― Marcel Proust, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

Marcel_Proust_(Père_Lachaise) side by side hotel - grave

Virginia Woolf’s Nine Tips on How To Read a Book [Ninth]

virginia woolf a writer's life quote over photoVirginia Woolf’s Nine Tips on How To Read a Book

“If behind the erratic gunfire of the press the author felt that there was another kind of criticism, the opinion of people reading for the love of reading, slowly and unprofessionally, and judging with great sympathy and yet with great severity, might this improve the quality of his work?

Reading is not a means to some intellectual end, but an intellectual and creative reward in itself.

I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, those need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.’”

Remembrance: Marcel Proust – Part 19

Remembrance: Marcel Proust

Moments from
“Remembrance of Things Past”

Marcel-Proust

“There is no man…
however wise,
who has not at some period
in his youth said things,
or lived a life,
the memory of which
is so unpleasant to him
that he would gladly expunge it.
And yet he ought not
entirely to regret it,
because he cannot be certain
that he has indeed
become a wise man…”

― Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I:
Swann’s Way & Within a Budding Grove

Marcel_Proust_(Père_Lachaise) side by side hotel - grave