The Iterative Pursuit of Perfection
This morning, I had a really good idea for today’s post, but I cannot for the life of me think of what it is. I should’ve jotted it down, so we’re going to go with that instead. Let me begin with a story.
Once upon a time, there was a writer who fancied himself more artist than anything. He took copious notes all the time, observing his fellow man and the world around him carefully. You would think he was Audubon with his obsession. He carried a notebook with him everywhere (how better to take notes) and even in his odd hours he spent times carefully noodling away in delicious detail. Though critical in thought and analytical in process, he never wove any tales. He never ventured beyond the character studies and behavioral critiques to develop anything approaching a story.
Ideas came in globular bits and fits and what ifs. When an idea was zeroed in upon, it formed the nucleus of a new set of notes which orbited it about it round and round but never developing anything outside of its planetary cycle. New things often accumulated until the fragmentary ideas were like the rings of Saturn or the planet was abandoned to find another, better planet, better capable of supporting story. Whole galaxies developed in this fashion. Work was made and a plan may have existed but it was beyond the capabilities of the writer.
He had to get down to particulars. He knew this way was not the right way, so he abandoned this particular madness for another. He opted to let his mind serve as a filter, secure in the hopes his judgment and memory would do what the volumes of notes did not. His mind would catch the good ideas and he would be certain in his preparedness when it came time to write. This worked a bit, but, as might be expected not ideally. Potentially good ideas were lost in the vast, shadowy chasms of his mind where many mundane and useless bits of trivia hide until something shakes them to the surface. He decided he’d have to find another way.
Finally, he opted to take notes in shorthand and this worked the best. He didn’t compel himself to carry a notebook at all times, nor did he commit any and all fleeting ideas to memory. He struck a middle ground. He found a happy balance. Sometimes the ideas were good upon later reflection. Sometimes they were great. Sometimes they were less than stellar, yet provided a marker in his mind to reflect upon the grand why of things. Oh mighty experience, save us from our younger selves!
Now, as you may have known, this guy was me. No big revelation there, right? I just want to let you know we can all grow and we need to find the porridge that isn’t too hot or too cold for us. Just as some folks eat their grits with sugar (and a pox be upon them), the truly enlightened eat theirs as a savory side with cheese or bacon or a touch of butter and a whisper of salt. That’s why they make more than one flavor of ice cream. Find your way of note taking through experimentation. What you may think is right, may just be a case of habit and what you think is right at this moment.
I looked upon an outline I had written a little over three years ago and realized the seed of what I use today and marveled at the evolutionary process. What I used worked (sort of), yet the refinement is not as fine as it is today. It’s an iterative process. It is the ability to stick to something with an honest passion which ultimately allows us to hit a level of professionalism (or what we hope approximates it as best we are able) as we weave our way down the road of life.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!