Monday, June 1, 2015

Letting Go

Post by Jenny

Despite our recent April-shower weather, the end of May, and end of the school year, is upon us. It’s a transitional year for me as my younger son leaves middle school before joining his older brother at high school in the fall. (I say “fall” because that feels so much better than “third week of August.” Allow me this one little delusion, please.)

So, it’s time to say goodbye to the teachers, the staff, the band shirt embroidered with the school logo, the just-right-sized building, and a population of students still young enough that the boys haven’t yet traded their rosy cheeks for facial hair.

I thought I would be pretty sad, because, as my family could tell you, I don’t do change well. I dig in my heels and pointlessly rail against the swift passage of time. (Case in point, as I write this, I’m listening to Disney music on iTunes radio.) And I did have some moments, but for the most part, I accept that it’s time to leave middle school behind. As I get older, I think that letting go (in small doses) is becoming slightly easier for me.

Except with my writing. Boy, is it sometimes hard for me to commit to letting a project go. I might send it out a couple of times, but then I dive right back in to what I call “polishing,” which, as you may know, is writer-speak for obsessive self-editing. As I think about it now, I recognize these two different mechanisms at work:

Perfectionism—Every time I make even a small change, I assume it makes my work “better.” Usually it just makes it “different.”

Reassurance—Rereading a project makes me feel good about myself—Hey, I wrote this! And it doesn’t suck!—and reminds me that I’m still in control of its destiny…or lack thereof.

My latest in a seemingly endless series of writing-related goals is to get better at letting go. (Maybe I should see Frozen. If the music is any indication, there’s some kind of lesson there…) Letting go can be hard, but sometimes not letting go is worse. All things being equal, I don’t particularly want my sons living in my basement when they are thirty. Nor do I wish that same fate for The Collected Works of Me.

What helps you let go of a writing project?

1 comment:

Patricia Stoltey said...

Letting go is really hard with manuscripts we love (or once loved and feel we can actually make publishable if we write one more version).I need to work on singing "Let it go" more often.

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