Finding Beauty in Imperfection

This is a picture of my favorite cup. I bought it back in 2011 from a farmers’ market in Oakland, from a woman who made many by hand. I really liked the color and the slightly irregular shape of it, and drank out of it most days. Late in 2012, it got knocked over and chipped, as shown in the photo. For a moment, I was bummed—but then I thought about the idea of wabi-sabi (which I claim no grand understanding of), and decided that I would appreciate this flaw rather than bemoan it. To this day, I look fondly at that chip.

We should better embrace this attitude in our creative endeavors. We too often struggle for perfection—to where “Perfect is the enemy of good and of done” is something we at times repeat to ourselves and others. I’ve spent 30 minutes staring at a page recently, trying to come up with a perfect Fate aspect to sum up a slice of a setting’s situation, before remembering that it’s okay to imperfectly describe things. I can always revise words I write later, or I can even decide that what I wrote was actually good. Likewise, I’ll look at work someone else has turned in, see what I consider imperfections[1], but because of the pressures of time I let them go. That’s what you have to do in order to stay sane in publishing.

It’s especially true for being a creator-publisher. You’re merely beholden to yourself, even if you have stakeholders like Kickstarter backers, so you need to develop a sense of when what you see as imperfections actually holds beauty and fruit, and when they’re genuine problems to be addressed (like typos and other errors).

My teacup is like my publishing life—it’s finished, but not complete or perfect. And it’s my favorite cup even so.

A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.

Paul Valéry

– Ryan

Where did this post come from? That page I was staring at. Stuff I’m not 100% happy about in the Extra Secret Service setting grid but is actually fine. A bunch of stuff you haven’t seen. And, of course, lessons hard-learned from Mythender and Fate stuff.

[1] Really take those stressed words to heart. Just because we see something as imperfect because it doesn’t fit our creative views or agendas doesn’t mean it is.