Thursday, October 22, 2015

Exuberant Imperfection

In the days and weeks leading up to Nanowrimo (only 9 days to go!) I have been outlining my novel and diving further into the world and characters I am creating. Also, because knowledge is power and since it holds even the slightest fragment of encouragement, I am reading a novel called "No Plot? No Problem!" by Chris Baty, the founder of Nanowrimo. It has been a fun and inspiring novel so far. It has made me even more excited about next month's writing adventure and given me a confidence that I believe I can actually do this, which is fairly fantastic.

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One of the concepts Baty offers early on in his novel is this idea of "exuberant imperfection." Basically this concept is this: "The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy."

The idea, is to stop thinking so much about being perfect and just be. For example, while writing a first draft (50,000 words in 30 days) I simply explore ideas and run with my tangents instead of having an entire plot mapped out. Sure, it might end up really awful and fruitless, but on the other hand, it could become the turning point and shinning moment in my novel.

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Baty goes on to encourage practicing this lowering of unrealistically high expectations in all areas of life. For someone who has a hard time putting myself out there with the risk of making mistakes, I can feel the anxiety start to creep in at the thought of loosening my control over life. Then I got to thinking...this might be exactly what I need to overcome that gripping fear of doing anything unknown or spontaneous. I've decided that writing might just save me once again...that writing a novel in 30 days, however crazy an idea it might be, just might help me be brave, which is what I've been searching for recently.

"Try your hand at something you've long thought you might like but fear you'll be bad at. You'll probably feel uncomfortable and exposed at first, but you'll also find that the world is a lot more fun when you approach it with an exuberant imperfection." ~Chris Baty

I like that idea. Not the feeling uncomfortable part, but the making the world more fun part. The older I get the more I believe that life is meant to be fun and quirky and lived to the fullest without second guessing every decision or turning to the peanut gallery to make a decision in the first place.

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There is a quote I read a while back by C.S. Lewis that said, "Eventually, you will grow old enough to read fairy tales again." At first, I thought it meant that when you had kids you would read fairy tales again for the next generation in an attempt to encourage imagination. It is only recently that I realize that imagination does not have an expiration date. The more I write and prepare for Nanowrimo, the more I realize that I don't want my imagination to dissipate. I want to read fairy tales for myself (though I do share them with my daughter.) I want to have fun and live in the present. I want a life worth living and to smile joyously just because I'm alive.

One additional quote from Baty really got me thinking:
"Exuberant imperfection allows you to circumvent those limiting feelings entirely. It dictates that the best way to tackle daunting, paralysis-inducing challenges is to give yourself permission to make mistakes, and then go ahead and make them."

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I cannot tell you how many things I simply don't do because I'm afraid I will do something wrong. It is a residual affect of years of people pleasing that I'm trying to overcome. I have also come to realize that part of my anxiety is that I have a tendency to become overwhelmed at the whole of a thing and have trouble breaking it up into achievable sections. Let's take novel writing as one example, which  is why I am so excited for Nanowrimo. I am looking forward to taking the time I set aside with a goal in mind of writing without worrying so much about whether it is good, simply that it is done.

My remarkable husband has a irritating habit (I say that lovingly) of thinking in a sometimes overly logical manner. He can break things down in his mind into independent parts without even trying. When he tells a story, it is all encompassing because he works through every little detail like you are actually living through the experience as him. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of his complex storytelling capability.

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I try extremely hard to do the same and I end up getting lost within my own story. I forget the foundation trying so hastily to get to the climax. I am an emotional writer, probably because I'm an emotional person, but it does make it difficult to get everything to line up in an orderly fashion that makes sense to anyone (including myself at times). I'm working on adding details and breaking a story down into smaller parts to build intensity and expectation instead of stumbling into a story's conclusion.

I believe Nanowrimo will help me become a better writer because I can allow myself to be an emotional writer and tell the story in my own way, plot holes and all. I can go back and edit after my first draft is finished to create a polished product, my literary masterpiece. The best part is that by writing, I will get better at writing and learn how to create that easy flow I dream my novel will one day encompass.

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The idea that it is okay to make mistakes is life-changing for me. I'm not perfect, I never have been, nor will I ever be. So why not embrace it? Why not live fully doing the things I love? Go out of my way to help others when appropriate, sure, that is part of who I am. Apologize when necessary because I didn't see that coming, absolutely. Hesitate to enjoy myself because I'm afraid of what other's think of me, not anymore. I will emanate exuberant imperfection and most importantly, be myself.


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We all have one life that is summed up in a series of stories, I desire to make them good stories. Nothing is permanent, everything is fixable so I will be flexible and make mistakes creating the life I've always dreamed of.


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