I need to slow down. I’m one of those people who would rather get it done, even wrong, than to wait and do it right. Often, this works for me. It’s no secret that I don’t like cleaning. It’s boring, and no sooner is it finished than you have to start all over again. So, I’d rather do a poor job quickly and just get done what I need to do. After all, if the carpet isn’t vacuumed perfectly, it’s just going to get dirty again anyway, right?
Of course, this attitude does not always hold me in good stead. There are things that are worth doing right the first time. Cooking mostly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed something up because I didn’t completely read the instructions in my hurry to get done. I mean to slow down. I will next time. Probably.
I recently read an article in The Writer that brought this point home to me. The author, Linda K. Wertheimer, talks about how important it was for her to learn to slow down her writing, and how it brought a richness and depth of emotion to her writing that hadn’t been there in her rush to get things done.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story that I thought was poignant and emotionally raw. I sent it into a contest that offered feedback. While I didn’t necessarily expect to win the contest and was mostly looking for feedback, what I got surprised me.
Without exception,the reviewers commented that they couldn’t connect with the narrator. What? I ripped out my heart and put it on the paper for you. And you can’t connect?
I know that my knee-jerk reaction to feedback is negative and I need to live with it for awhile before I can deal with it,so I put those cards away and mostly forgot that story. Once in awhile, I pick it up and look at it, only to put it away again. Maybe I’m just not ready to tell that story; I don’t know. What I do know is that article really made me think. What if I’m in such a hurry to tell the story that I forgot what I wanted to say? What if I’m so busy talking that I haven’t put any feelings onto the page?
I ask these questions because I’m not sure of the answer. What I do know is that when I am ready to go back to it, I’m going to try to slow down and tell the story right. Unlike cleaning, telling a story the way I want to tell it is the right thing to do. Once it’s in a magazine or online or in a book, it will stay exactly the way I’ve written it.
If only everything were so tidy… I’m not sure if that would make life easier, or just more boring. I’m probably never going to slow down and vacuum the floors completely, but if I can slow down and tell the story I want to, that’ll be enough for me.
I found a pdf of the original article on the internet and have posted the link here for you.