Writing, The Enemy of Good, and ‘Goldilocks’…

What draws us to write often comprises that which presents our greatest challenge when writing a story, or novel.

The psychic and emotional wounds that compel us to write present the greatest, and yet oftentimes, most invisible obstacles we encounter throughout the process of crafting and refining our stories for public consumption.

So what are these demons that lay in wait upon the trail we hew in seeking to manifest our dreams, the demons that rear their heads, beautiful and ugly that can distract and pull me from the path as ordered by my heart?

They come in many sizes and shapes.

The one that stands foremost in my mind is my need and desire to achieve perfection. A priest introduced me to this battle when stating, quite carefully, “Perfection is the enemy of good.” He offered this axiom during a session of spiritual direction that he conducted with me.

Brought up in a southern Pentecostal church by a strict Baptist mother, I’d never heard the words he had used brought together like that. Put another way, “Don’t let your desire for perfection, Anjuelle, destroy the good you have accomplished.”

They really struck me.

I like for everything to be just right in whatever I do or set out to accomplish 

Most writers want the same.

But what is just right? Rather what does just right entail? Does it satisfy the reader?

What is the process of achieving or accomplishing, creating that which is just right?

Does Goldilocks know?

The porridge she ate in the home of The Three Bears was just right. Their bed that she slept in was just right.

The chair upon which she sat when eating the porridge was just right.

Things fell from the state of just right when Mama, Papa and Baby Bear arrived back at home and found their beds slept in and porridge eaten.

The desire for perfection often comes dressed much like Goldilocks, beautiful, innocent-seeming, appearing to what to carry out no harm.

It is interesting to note that Robert Southey, the poet and author of The Three Bears, created the character, Goldilocks, from the elderly antagonist of a previous character in an earlier version of the story we have come to know.

This desire for excellence, all things right, slips in to our hearts and minds, slithers onto the terrain of our unconscious, makes bedfellows with our fears and doubts, eats upon our beliefs, gnaws away at our dreams, and establishes itself upon the throne of our thoughts.

And then we, the true persons that we are arrive back at the home of our true identity, and find our house has been invaded.

How often do you start out with plans and then on bringing our ideas into physical reality we encounter someone, better yet, we seek out confirmation that what we are doing is okay, or just right?

In so doing, we receive input that we readily embrace and before we know it we find ourselves off the path we set out for ourselves.

Sometimes these critics insinuate themselves and their ideas about what we are creating into our lives without our asking. The present as friends or well-wishers who want to help.

In either case, we must be careful and remain wary.

This does not mean that as writers we can simply plug ourselves to the desk or computer, and simply write without ever stopping to consider what we have written, how it compares to the standards set for presenting readers with an engaging and entertaining story.

Surely we must learn what constitutes clear and good quality writing and how to shape our stories and novels to contain and reflect that.

At the heart of this we must also and always evaluate the places we seek in which to attain these skills.

We just evaluate writing courses and instructors with our heads and our hearts.

Simply put, the best way to ensure that I don’t achieve my desired goals is to entangle myself with those who seek to divert me from my chosen task.

The most dangerous and enticing intruder to my home and that can prevent me from manifesting my dreams hopes and wishes is the Goldilocks who resides within me–the part of Anjuelle that wants perfection over all else, and thus becomes the destroyer of anything good I might create.

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~ by Anjuelle Floyd on February 15, 2010.

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