Monday, March 19
Is just okay...okay?
I have been on a weight-loss regime for…oh, probably 40-some years. There have been five or six days in my life when I have been completely satisfied with my size, and even then I am bothered by my always-poochy stomach, or my batwing arms, or the way my once-nice legs are now wrinkled. But I’m getting better. The sight of me naked in a mirror is still the stuff nightmares are made of, but in clothes? Not so bad. You know…okay. Complete satisfaction isn’t the goal anymore; being healthy and being able to find clothes I like is the goal. One of the up parts of aging is the discovery that just okay is…well, it’s okay.
There are arguments against that. Lots of people believe if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. They remind us that no one ever remembers who got second place. That nice guys don’t win ballgames even if they do have fun playing.
Quilting is supposed to be a precise art, made up of scant-quarter-inch seams and star points that are perfect and seam intersections that are truly junctures as opposed to jogs in the patchwork road. My quilts are not, but they’re warm and kind of pretty and the grandkids who own them love them.
But what about writing? I’ve become lazier about it. Ten pages used to be a successful day—now I’m thrilled all out of proportion if I write two that I can read without gagging. If I need a day away from the WIP, well, I take one. Or two. Last week, I forgot to blog on my day and I was sorry—Monday is my job, after all—but I didn’t rush around and write something so I could post it late in the day. When a submissions call goes out that is right up my alley, I think, hmm…, and chances are good that’s as far as it goes.
Does this mean I’m ready to stop writing? No, I don’t think so. (Besides, I’m one of those who can’t. Even if I did want to, which I don’t.) More importantly, does this mean I’m ready to settle for “just okay” in what I write? Judging by what I read—or in some cases try to read—I feel safe in saying I wouldn’t be the only one settling.
Oh, and here we are again—it’s another crux. (I just love that word. In all the years I’ve been blogging and writing essays, I’ve come to cruxes in more issues than I can count.) For me, this crux is a whole bundle of things.
· It’s the reason I will probably never self-publish, because honesty compels me to admit that some of my work that hasn’t been visited by a professional editor falls under the auspices of “okay.” Barely. If I have readers, they deserve better than that. Because unlike my quilts, warm and sort of pretty don’t cut it when it comes to stories.
· My work habits are not a viable excuse for mediocrity in that work. It’s just fine that I’m not as productive at 61 as I was 20 or even 10 years ago, but it’s not fine if I use my age as an excuse for half-assed writing and even worse editing of that work. (Don’t look hard at my sentence structure—it’s always been suspect.)
· If I write a bad book, no one will want to read the one after that, providing there is one. While my writing career is spotty at best, I’m proud of what has been published. If I can’t be proud of it, I don’t want it to be published.
· How I look naked is of no concern to anyone; if okay works for the roommate and me, that’s all that’s necessary. How my book looks naked is of concern to anyone who pays good money for it.
Well, all right, that was a pretty small bundle, wasn’t it? And the crux wasn’t too easy to decipher, either. I think I’ve figured out that while most of the things in my life are good as “okay,” writing is not. Because once I decide to share it, it’s not about me anymore. I’m still not sure this makes sense, but what do you think? Are some things just fine as “okay” and some not, or do you think everything should be the best it can be?