Yesterday I played the piano for my daughter when she sang in church. She has had a sore throat and cold over the last week, and as we were practicing Saturday night she was concerned that her voice would crack and she wouldn’t do as well as she usually does. Still, she was confident that she would do fine. Her vocal teacher told her that she already has “very good” down pat and now she has to work on being amazing. But even if she has a less than stellar performance, as long as she puts in her best effort, the audience will still love “very good”.
How often do we do something well, but won’t share with others because it isn’t amazing? When working on a manuscript, I can edit for months and still feel like the words just aren’t cooperating with me. The temptation to hide it in a drawer and never let anyone see it is always there, yet I know that letting the story molder away in a corner defeats the purpose. I write for others. There is nothing more satisfying than hearing something that flowed from my pen has touched someone’s life and got them thinking. That hidden away manuscript doesn’t help anyone, especially me.
I often have to bite my tongue when someone tells me about a scene in my book that they particularly loved. So often the first thoughts in my mind are how I could make it better, because let’s face it, nothing is perfect. When I step back and think about the comments I’ve received, I realize that the stories I tell can touch people’s lives despite their imperfections.
It’s like my daughter’s singing. To most of us, her voice is amazing – clear, sweet, strong. Yet she hears the word that didn’t come out exactly right or the note that didn’t get held as long as she wanted. Despite still having much to learn about the voice and how to use it, she always brings a wonderful spirit into the room when she shares her talent. The rest of us wish we could sing as beautifully.
It’s interesting being imperfect. There is always something new to learn, a different technique to try, a mistake to fix, and a new skill level to reach for. I think if I wrote the perfect book every time, the process would lose something and become boring. For me, part of the joy is the learning I do along the way. I keep reminding myself, if our audiences love our “very good,” just wait until they see amazing!