Creativity · Writing

Not Perfect, but Good Enough

I came across this line in Far and Away, by Neil Peart (review coming soon). It comes from Peart’s childhood in Canada. When he’d finish one of his chores, like washing the family car, and ask his dad if it was good enough, his dad would reply, “If it’s perfect, then it’s good enough.”

Peart twisted it a bit to describe his attempt to play the drum parts for several Buddy Rich songs at a tribute concert. Rich is considered the greatest jazz drummer ever, and his drum parts are legendary. Peart knew he couldn’t match his idol’s skill, but he tried the best he could. Thus, “Not perfect, but good enough.”

As artists, I think that’s something we can all relate to. From a writer’s perspective, I admit that I always abandon my stories. There’s only so much I can do to get them as close to what I envision in my head before frustration kicks in. In my head the story is perfect. On paper…it’s always close, very close, but I have to resign myself to “good enough”.

Of course, the argument can be made that perfection is boring. If every story you wrote or piece of art you created was perfect every time, you’d probably get bored with creating. What I mean is, the struggle is part of the creative process. Without it, well, it’s just not any fun.

Think about that for a minute. You write a story that hits every point dead-center. Your plotting is perfect, characterization is perfect, dialogue, narrative…every piece of your story hits every reader in that emotional sweet-spot. Every time.

Sure, it would be nice to have that happen once, but every single time? Where’s the challenge? Where’s the sweat and tears, the sleepless nights, being lost in thought at a stoplight while you try to work out some tangled element?

I hear writers complain all the time about how hard writing can be, and I won’t disagree. It’s definitely a struggle, but at the same time, I wouldn’t trade my abilities for anything else in the world. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. Maybe I’m a bit of a masochist. Whatever the reason, I really do enjoy the effort I have to put into every story or poem I write. I think it makes the process worthwhile. I had to work to tell the story. If it’s well-received by just one person, then the effort was worth it.

And no, my stories are never going to be perfect, at least, not to me. But as long as it’s good enough for my reader, then it’s good enough for me.


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