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Done versus perfect

Sara Lingafelter
Sara Lingafelter
5 min read
Done versus perfect

I tend to write when things are really good, or really bad, and not so much when things are just rolling along.  Or rather, I tend to share my writing under those circumstances… usually hastily penned, written in a sitting blog posts, and only very rarely something that takes any time to sit and simmer and be improved and edited and then unveiled either in print or under someone else’s masthead.  I went through a long dry spell this winter and spring… going to work under fluorescent lights in a cubicle turned out to not do much for my creativity, nor did it stoke my memoir fire.

A few months ago, I picked up my journal again, but I’ve had little interest, in a strange way, in sharing much beyond a status update here and there, lately.  Maybe it’s because things have been a funny mix of good and hard — the kind that’s difficult to nod to, because then people may worry, or rush to judgment, or any of the other risks that come with being someone who tells true stories.  Maybe it’s because my private life is more rich than it used to be, and that isn’t stuff I want necessarily to blog about — it’s nice to keep that stuff closely held, to some degree.  Maybe it’s because I’m not adventuring like I used to, and those are the stories that people have come to expect… or maybe it’s just that with the collision of life and work that’s happened over the last few years, I’m feeling a need to delineate some boundaries.  But something is a-changing.

My 36th birthday was yesterday, and the gift I gave myself is an old fashioned address book.  It’s bright blue, with 224 pages to record names and addresses and phone numbers, and birthdays and anniversaries, the way my mom has for my whole life.  I remember navigating the address book when I was still living at home… looking first under the first letter of their last name, then the first letter of their first name, or maybe – was there a nickname or a married name?  Sometimes the first try struck gold, others, I had to ask mom for help with her schema.  The arrangement of names may seem arbitrary, but the placement of each name had a story.  Turning those pages, with their scribbled out and updated mailing addresses and phone numbers, showed me who our people were… the people who would send and receive Christmas cards and the occasional long phone call to catch up.  And whether it was once a year or once a week, those were the people who knew our stories.  I’m guessing the number of entries exceeded Dunbar’s Number, but where old friends and family had migrated to the outer circles of connection to make room for new or rekindled relationships at the closest, the addressbook provided the ability to sit down, look at a name, and decide whether to reach out.

So after months of thinking wistfully about my mom’s address book, I decided that would make a fine present for myself, this birthday.  I daydream about a few months or a year unplugged, in a cabin somewhere, with books, and abundant pens and paper, and a big pile of stamps, and my love, and a short ferry ride for friends and family that care to make the trip.  I daydream about writing every day, and then actually editing, and working through the hard parts, and maybe even putting something together that I like, that’s more considered than I can hammer out in a 45 minute “morning pages” section or 15 minute blog post.  I’ve learned over the years the importance of writing for myself — whether anyone else reads the words or not, and whether they ever appear under someone else’s masthead or not — but why not, once in awhile, write better for myself?

Perhaps the address book is the first step toward making that a reality.  Or maybe it’s just an acknowledgment that while my profession and choice of city has not changed, there are little ways that I can forge a more considered, quiet life, in my present surroundings.  And appreciate what is, instead of daydreaming about what could be.

An app posted a status update on a friend’s behalf on Facebook yesterday and I curiously clicked through.  The tool combs all of your Facebook updates to spit out information about you, and your personality.  It looks to be gathering demographic information and other data for an online dating site — but whatever their end goal, one tidbit in my own curiously clicked-to analysis stuck with me.  The tab is still open in my browser, and I can’t quite seem to close it.

I have no delusions that a book is inside me, despite the loving support of my friends and family who see that in my future… but man.

So my hope is, while the men grow their moustaches, to try NANOWRIMO this year even though I don’t write fiction.  I have to remind myself, I didn’t climb, before I started climbing; I didn’t run before I started running; and the list could go on and on and on, of things that enrich my life, even for those things I do at such an embarrassingly remedial level that I’d never show another living soul.

I have no idea what I’ll write about.  I’ll remind myself that I’m writing for me and it doesn’t have to be any good but it’s like running:  I’m not good at it, but it’s good for me.  It’s exercise.  I’ll challenge myself to embrace The Done Manifesto, which — to be fair — I would never have heard of, were it not for speaking at a conference about social media, where I met someone who I became “friended” with on Facebook, who posted a different article about Done Versus Perfect yesterday and then shared the Manifesto with me when I thanked him for the share.  The irony, if you can even call it that, that I’m presently writing a one-sitting blog post about unplugging, which I’ll probably share on Facebook, is of course, not lost on me.  But this is what I’m talking about… maybe it’s just about moving small weights from one side of the balance beam scale to the other.

And if you have any recommendations for a really good, fine-tipped, blue-ink re-fillable writing pen, let me know.  I’m in the market.

Sara Lingafelter

Sara (Grace) Lingafelter takes steps forward and backward toward a right-sized life on a daily basis.