Yesterday I fell under the wheel of some deadline pressures and a friend suggested I stop this Blogathon madness. “A couple of posts a week is enough,” she said sympathetically. “You don’t need to post every day.”
This realization made me remember one of the most revelatory passages I’ve ever read on the creative process. It’s from a superb little book by David Bayles and Ted Orland called Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING.
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A,” forty pounds a “B” and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A.” Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
So, for the month of June, I’m aiming for quantity: a post a day. I’ve given enough of my creative life to the futile pursuit of perfection — which has indeed largely involved sitting around “theorizing,” as Bayles and Orland so aptly put it. They also point out that the very idea of perfection is, ironically enough, “a flawed concept.”
Only out of our imperfections do we learn, grow and create.