Broodling on those butterflies…

The concept of squashing the butterfly really got me thinking. This goes further than just writing, it effects every kind of creativity. I have many memories of my own creative projects not quite fulfilling the butterfly design I visualised.

When we were young, my sister and I spent many hours playing with our dolls. My sister had Sindy and I had Tressy. They both had versions of ‘Sindy’s boyfriend Paul’ (although my Paul was called John as I always rated John Lennon over Paul McCartney) Sindy had a lovely red sports car and, as Tressy was very jealous of this car, I decided to make my own. The design in my head was fabulous – a kind of American Cadillac. I requisitioned an old shirt box from my dad, covering it in paper, and creating doors, seats, windscreen and headlights. I used a pair of mum’s knitting needles for spokes, and made cardboard wheels. Sadly the combined weight of Tressy and John caused the wheels to buckle and Tressy’s car collapsed at even the gentlest of pushes.

When I was eleven I moved up to big school. During my first ever science lesson, our teacher set us homework – to build a model demonstrating perpetual motion. I spent all week creating a wonderful cardboard roundabout. When I proudly presented it next lesson, the teacher told me it failed. I believe this incident was responsible for switching me off science for my entire life.
Later, as an impoverished but fashion conscious teenager I used to design and make my own clothes. Despite many admiring compliments I judged them all to be less than perfect – I could always see the bumpy hem, uneven zip and untailored shoulder pads.
So here is my epiphany. Perfectionism is a curse I have carried my entire life. Perhaps it this that causes me to move on to another novel whenever I reach three quarters of the way through my work in progress. I need to accept the 80:20 rule – 80% is good enough.
As a recovering perfectionist, I need to squash those butterflies if I am ever to finish a novel.

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