I don’t think they do this anymore, but when I was in second grade, a good part of our year was spent studying penmanship. We practiced stringing our cursive letters together, scrawling them over and over across lined paper, mimicking the shapes and words that our teacher wrote on the board.
If I’m being honest (as opposed to humble) I have to say, I was the best at this. My f’s, g’s, j’s, p’s, q’s, y’s and z’s all fell to exactly the right depth. My h’s, m’s, and n’s had textbook humps. Even the angle of my slant was impeccable.
In fact, my handwriting was so good that the teacher selected me to be her special assistant and help enter everybody’s grades into her grade book after class. Oh yeah, I was the bomb dot com.
How did I win such a coveted honor? By pushing my penmanship to perfection.
Or so I thought at the time.
Now, with my “kid vision” off, I can see that my r’s kind of look like v’s, and sometimes the loops are too wide in my b’s, d’s, and l’s. It’s no big deal, though. Of course my handwriting isn’t perfect! Nothing is.
Yes, my cursive was better than many of the other students’ — but that isn’t what got me the job. So why did my teacher ask me to be her grade book assistant? Because I had a good attitude, I worked diligently, and I paid attention to detail.
(And oh yeah, I wasn’t going to go gossiping about what so-and-so scored on her spelling test, or what whoseewhatchit got on his rainforest project.)
Sometimes I forget this lesson that I learned almost (holy cow) two decades ago. Sometimes I forget that perfection cannot be attained. Sometimes I spend hours sitting in front of my computer, paralyzed by a single sentence, because I’m trying to shape it into something flawless instead of just telling the dang story.
(Note to self: Stop that, you moron.)
Unfortunately, last week was one of those “sometimes.” But don’t worry, I’m back in business now, pushing forward with my “kid vision” on. I’m approaching my manuscript with a good attitude, working diligently, and paying attention to the details of plot and character. I know that when it’s all said and done, the writing won’t be perfect. But as I learned (so many!) years ago, perfection isn’t really what life’s about.