We spend a lot of time making our creative work perfect. Diving in, we find the perfect word, the perfect note, the perfect brushstroke. We test and try and spend hours tweaking this look or phrase or shape.
And we worry that our clients will catch us in an imperfect moment, doing imperfect things, creating imperfect art.
This feeling is so usual, so normal, so natural. If we formed a club, it would be the least exclusive club imaginable.
The thing is, our clients and patrons and fans and readers don’t need us to be perfect. They just need us to be there, to express our voice, to deliver our art.
This is not to say that we can’t hold ourselves to certain standards. Our mugs need to hold the hot tea, not send it leaking onto the counter. We get to work on our art, doing writing and drawing exercises, studying the work of masters, practicing every chance we get. As a writer, grammar handbooks, dictionaries, thesauruses, and popular style guides sit in easy reach on my bookshelf.
But if your choice is to refuse to show your creation to another person because it isn’t perfect, to keep it from delivery despite the fact that the cup will hold water and the sketch looks beautiful to everyone you show it to and the writing makes your wife laugh out loud….
Can you give yourself a break? Can you go ahead and deliver your work anyway?
We can only do the best we can do at any given time.
And sometimes, doing our best means delivering on time and allowing the imperfections to remain. To let our readers catch our typos. To forever see that imperfect brush stroke, the extra line, the slight smudge of our thumbprint in the clay.
But most readers whiff right by our typos. Those brushstrokes and lines that stick out to your trained eye are loved by your clients, and repeat offenders become the notes in your voice that make your art unique. That smudge of your thumbprint makes the purchaser of your mug smile as she feels it under her fingers while sipping her hot tea on a cool spring morning.