The Squint Test and Tolerating the Imperfect

Sharing some pre-Christmas thoughts in this reprise from 2009…

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Through the years my husband has wound umpteen dozen strings of lights around our Christmas trees … and unwound them … and rewound them. It’s hard to tell if they’re perfectly spaced even when the strings are lit up, so he does “the squint test”. Peering at the tree while squinting removes all the visual distractions except the small sparkles of illumination. He likes them to be exactly right.

Last year our tree looked lovely – the treasured family heirloom ornaments glistened among our collection of snowflakes, frosted pinecones, and a few red balls for a festive touch. And then the lights went out. Actually, just one string went out – the new, supposed-to-last-for-years LED’s faded away and left the top quarter of the tree dark. Drat!!

So we un-decorated that section, removed the string and replaced it with another, and then redecorated. There. Now it was lovely again … until the next evening when another set of the lights slowly faded away to nothing, this time mid-way down the tree. To replace that string would have required removal of a great number of the decorations as well as the beaded swags, so we did some minor tweaking, rearranged a few nearby lights and then resigned ourselves to ignoring the imperfection, but it’s hard to do. You know how it is. The lights form the backdrop for all the other ornaments. This errant string left a darkened gap right in the middle. But we didn’t have any family coming to visit that Christmas, so no one else saw it.  Later when we were putting everything back into storage we discarded that string so we wouldn’t forget and try to use it again the  next year.

It’s a little like my first novel. I wanted it to be perfect but it was written before I learned what writing was meant to be. Peering critically at it reveals weaknesses. There are gaps that no amount of rearranging is going to fix. I know; I’ve tried. The underlying plot is flawed. The story needs a total rewrite but that would be more work than I think it’s worth. So I’m resigned to its imperfection and have stashed it in the dusty depths of oblivion better known as the closet. No one is ever going to see it.

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What do you do with your less-than-perfect writing efforts? Are you able to discard them or do you keep trying to make them better? How do you decide if they’re worth the effort?

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Imperfections in Life and Writing

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The autumn colours entice my camera and me out onto woodland paths where vine maples are showing off.

Returning to the back yard I check the lone tree that stretches toward the garden from within the woods. Its colours are changing, too, but I’m disappointed to find a brown blight that spots its leaves.

It has always been spindly, so often nodding in the shade with only a small section able to reach out to the sunlight. The rest of the trunk is perpetually shadowed by crowding evergreens, its roots covered by creek dampened and mouldering debris. Most years the leaves manage to remain clear, but not this year, and I wonder why. There is still a rustic beauty in the etched colours, but it’s blemished. I resolve to clear away the smotherings and try for a better result next year.

I wonder if God looks upon my life efforts, sees the blemishes and is disappointed in the the lack of loveliness in my seasons. Still… in all my imperfections I am one of his creations. Each new season is a fresh opportunity. Each day I can begin again.

There is a comparison in my writing as well — seasons when my well-intentioned writing has faltered and been less than stellar. I labour on to complete the draft, encouraged by the prospect of future revisions. I can make it better.

Renewal  ~  Repentance  ~  Revision

The ongoing cycle seeks to improve, reaching towards elusive perfection.

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Ten months of 2011 have passed. Do you notice things that you want to do differently ‘next time’?

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The Squint Test, or Tolerating the Imperfect

Through the years my husband has wound umpteen dozen strings of lights around our Christmas trees… and unwound them… and rewound them. It’s hard to tell if they’re perfectly spaced even when the strings are lit up, so he does “the squint test”. Peering at the tree while squinting removes all the visual distractions except the small sparkles of illumination. He likes them to be exactly right.

.

This year our tree looked lovely – the treasured family heirloom ornaments glistened among our collection of snowflakes, frosted pinecones, and a few red balls for a festive touch. And then the lights went out. Actually, just one string went out – the new, supposed-to-last-for-years LED’s just faded away and left the top quarter of the tree dark. Drat!!

.

So we un-decorated that section, removed the string and replaced it with another, and then redecorated. There. Now it was lovely again… until the next evening when another set of the lights slowly faded out to nothing, this time mid-way down the tree. To replace that string would have required removal of a great number of the decorations as well as the beaded swags, so we did some minor tweaking, rearranged a few nearby lights and then resigned ourselves to ignoring the imperfection, but it’s hard to do. You know how it is. The lights form the backdrop for all the other ornaments. This errant string leaves a darkened gap right in the middle. But we don’t have any family coming to visit this Christmas so no one else will see it.  Later when we’re putting everything back into storage we’ll discard that string so we don’t forget and try to use it again next year.

.

It’s a little like my first novel. I wanted it to be perfect but it was written before I learned what writing was meant to be. Peering critically at it reveals weaknesses. There are gaps that no amount of rearranging is going to fix. I know; I’ve tried. The underlying plot is flawed. The story needs a total rewrite but that would be more work than I think it’s worth. So I’m resigned to its imperfection and have stashed it in the dusty depths of oblivion better known as the closet. No one is ever going to see it.

.

What do you do with your less-than-perfect writing efforts? Are you able to discard them or do you keep trying to make them better? How do you decide if they’re worth the effort?

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