Writing is like dental care. No matter how long you brush with Sonicare, floss, and use anti–plaque mouthwash, the hygienist always sees room for improvement. At some point you have to say, my teeth look and feel good enough to smile and eat with, so fuck the hygienist. (photo courtesy of Sossaman Dental Health and Implant Center, Mesa, AZ)
With writing, you can write, rewrite, edit, and beat a piece to death in the hopes of reaching creative perfection. Send it off to an editor and there will always be room for improvement. A good writer has to learn when something is good enough, and let it go. The dental hygienist’s job is to make suggestions and help you do better, not write the 10 Commandments of gum disease. “Thou shalt not rest until your teeth gleam and your gums never bleed.”
Seeking perfection in anything is self-defeating. Setting the bar too high will stunt your production or paralyze you with fear. A little plaque or pink gums is not the end of the world, or your health. And there comes a time when other things in life call out to be dealt with or enjoyed. Choices are what life is made up of. So scrape the plaque off your piece and move on to hair removal, child care, or Facebook posting.
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” [Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird ]
Sometimes it takes a gun to your head to actually write, but doing it regardless is part of the process. So floss, and write, and see it through. Just learn to know when “through” means through, and allow yourself the chance to do it all over again. Sometimes you have to bleed a little in the process.