A Much-Needed Skill, For Writing or Woodworking.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Yesterday morning, I put up this pegboard. I did not do a good job.
Now, this pegboard is a surprisingly large deal, as it’s the first time I’ve physically altered my environment with my own hands. This was the first time I ever went, “This thing is insufficient,” then went, “So why not change that?” and then ripped down part of a wall and put up another part.  In terms of worldview, it’s quite the large change.
In terms of actual work?  Shoddy.
If you look closely at the picture, you’ll notice that I cut the pegboards wrong.  There are two boards, and one juts out a little to the left, creating an unsightly gap.  If I’d done a better job, I would have noticed this before I started screwing things in.  I would have cut the boards to fit, measured them in advance properly. It’s something I’ll probably be deeply embarrassed by, when I get to be good at this.
Yet I can still take pride.
I’m lucky enough to hold those contradictory thoughts of “This could use improvement” and “I’m glad I made this.”  And when I look at the pegboard I’ll neither be tempted to rip it all down in disgust, nor wander away thinking this flawed work is brilliant.  I can be content that I’ve done something I’ve never been able to pull off before, yet make notes for future betterment.
Which is the way I write: I’m highly critical of my stories.  I can show you the soft points in every story I’ve published, even the ones I’ve been paid hundreds of dollars for; they’re riddled with errors I just couldn’t fix properly.  But at the same time, those flaws don’t negate the work put into it.  Like the peg board, it’s enough to hang some tools on.  Like the peg board, it’s taught me something about how to do this.  Like the peg board, ultimately it’s useful.
When you write.  When you work wood.  When you create.  Note your errors, fix what you can this time around, vow to do better the next time. Yet be proud; you did a fuck of a lot more than the people who created nothing, and you’ve leveled up in some small way.
You don’t have to be perfect. You shouldn’t be casual.  And you should never, ever stop.

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