Tag Archive for: creative ideas

Demanding Perfection

Demanding Perfection
By Cathy Perkins

Our old house was on a dead-end street, a nice long quiet
road with trees and kids and people who mostly observed the speed limit. For
the longest time, when I drove in and out of our neighborhood, I’d see a
teenaged boy practicing skateboard tricks—or rather the same trick—over and
He’d do the set-up, launch—and fail miserably.
Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/Tumisu-148124/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=3385370">Tumisu</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=3385370">Pixabay</a>

But he didn’t give up and eventually I saw him nail the
move. It didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual process. Instead of succeeding
once in a hundred times, it would be one in ten, and then finally, most of the time, he’d jump and spin and pick up his board. Smile. 
And practice it again.
After a while, he’d start on a new skill, a new trick. And
fail miserably.
I can’t count the number of times I thought, a girl would
never do that.
Not the practicing and the striving, but the public failure.
Repeated failure. Where everyone could see them mess up and sprawl all over the
pavement or the lawn and look like a dork.
I hadn’t thought about that kid in years, but a recent post
brought it crashing back.
Basically, Hugo talked about the tragic suicide of a teen,
Amanda Todd, following severe harassment after Todd’s decision to ‘sext’ a man
who, it turns out, may have been a predator. Allegedly, this man tried to
blackmail her and released the pictures to her classmates and life took a
horrible turn for Ms. Todd. More horribly, she didn’t see a way out.
Unfortunately, Todd’s story has been hijacked and trotted
out as a warning to girls about the danger of stepping ‘out of line’ with
anything sexual, another ridiculous blame the victim measure. While the article initially
focused on sexuality, what is most concerning to me is the way the ‘messing up
your life’ message demands perfection from young—and not so young—women, while
at the same time forbidding them to experiment or risk failure. As I told
Nicole in our Facebook exchange, this is the broader message for me:
[Resilience and the ability to thrive] means
focusing on giving them what we’ve given their brothers for decades: the chance
to see failure –- and even humiliation -– as an opportunity rather than as a
life-destroying disaster.  
I kept thinking about the implications of this message, this
demand for instant perfection, on creativity. Whatever the media—visual through
paint, photography, glass, fiber; performance in dance or theater; or the
written word—taking a chance, risking failure if you will, is inherent in
creative works. As much as we try to say, “writing is a business” or “once we
finish, it’s a product,” the end result of our creative endeavor is still a
piece of our soul.
And we offer it up to the world to critique.
If we aren’t “allowed” to take risks, to risk failure, if we
have to be “perfect” before we attempt…anything, what does that say about us as
a society? If we all have to fall in line and not push creative boundaries,
there won’t be urban fantasies or paranormal entities or mysteries that make us
think, not just about who did the crime, but what led those characters to make
those decisions or any of the other layers we authors craft into our stories to
make us think outside the expected. Outside the safe.
And failure to take the creative risk is a loss for all of
I don’t want to live in a white bread world, where
everything is the same. Where people are afraid to take risks. Are afraid to
challenge their deepest fears and embrace their highest dreams.
Instead I applaud everyone who steps outside their comfort
zone and offers a piece of their vision. A piece of their heart.


PS – I have a Book releasing in June, Calling for the Money. The original inspiration for it was a different news article about the suicide of a lonely veteran caught in a sexting scheme. The internet is a useful tool, but the anonymous predators deserve a special place in hell. 
An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at http://cperkinswrites.com or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She’s hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award.

Clicking Our Heels – As Writers, What’s Difficult or Easy to Address

Our Heels – As Writers, What’s Difficult or Easy to Address

Jennae Phillippe – Lately I’ve been
thinking a lot about representation in fiction; while I want to be inclusive in
my writing, I am terrified of being insulting or stereotyping, and yet I want
to write about people other than cisgendered straight white women. I tend to
rely heavily on my friends and their experiences, but I also feel a bit like a
story vampire, sucking their experiences from them to make my own characters
live. I am fortunate enough to have friends that are willing to share with me.

Bethany Maines – As in life, in
writing addressing emotions and complex moral decisions are the hardest things
for me to address. The easiest is action – getting from point A to point B is
so much easier to consider than grief or justice.

Paula Gail Benson – The most
difficult is writing onstage, in front of the readers’ eyes violence. The
easiest, happiest, and most wonderful is thanking fellow writers and readers
for their support and kindness.

Kay Kendall – The hardest thing I do
is to write the first draft of a manuscript. The easiest is to write the
conclusion. I also love working with an editor and perfecting things. Pulling
out the first draft, thought…UGH. Major ughs.

Paffi S. Flood – The most difficult
thing I address as a writer is slowing down a scene to allow the reader to
become fully engrossed in the emotional aspects of it. The easiest for me is
coming up with a premise. I have tons of them.

Kimberly Jayne – The biggest
challenge I face as a writer is time; I don’t have enough of it. So many

need to be done when you’re a writer, and most of those things are not even
about writing. They’re about marketing. For the writing, itself, the challenge
is keeping at it (butt in chair) even when you’re too beat to type another
word. Distractions and stressors from all aspects of my life can create general
fatigue that wears you down over time, and making myself go into my writing
space and do the work is sometimes asking too much. So, finding ways to
re-motivate, re-inspire, and re-energize is key. I guess the easiest thing is
editing. I do it enough, all day every day, that it’s quick and easy for me. I
also enjoy plotting with story boards – that’s pretty fun and easy to

Linda Rodriguez – The most difficult
thing for me in writing is plotting – that’s why I had to research and teach
myself a way of plotting that worked with my strong points. The easiest thing
for me in writing is character development. I can hear a name or see a stranger
in a coffee shop and begin developing an entire life, personality, and
background. I love to go deeper and deeper into characters.

Debra H. Goldstein – My biggest
difficulty is writing if I don’t have anything to say. Until an idea crystallizes,
I’m not inclined to sit down at my computer. Once I have the triggering idea or
phrase, words flow. They might not end up in the final manuscript because
they’re dull, were written to get through a moment of blockage, or are
repetitive, but there is an ease and joy as they fill the page.

Cathy Perkins – Right now, the
hardest thing for me is time management, which rather baffles me since I’ve
always been the “get ‘er done!” person. Rocking the exploding day job and
building a custom house might be a factor in that J. The easiest? I love
making up new characters and seeing what kind of trouble I can get them in –
and out – of.

Sparkle Abbey – The most difficult
is time management. It seems like there are simply never enough hours in the
day! As far as the writing itself, we both plot out our stories before we write
them and although we love that process, we’d have to say it never seems to get
any easier. The most fun part for us is the revision/layering part once a first
draft is complete. And, of course, meeting readers. Meeting readers is awesome!