Good Is The Enemy of Great

It’s raining here today in Cambridge. I’m listening to DMX’s “Lord Give Me a Sign;” José González’s “Storm;” and The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build a Home.”

I wonder if there are any TV fans out there so fanatical that you can tell from these songs (and maybe from my subject heading) what I’ve been watching?

I’ve been watching Friday Night Lights. I’ve fallen kind of hard for this show, for all these people, and I could blather about it for some time, but this post is about something else. In an episode I watched last night (S2E7), Julie’s (kinda slimy, but anyway) English teacher told her that when it comes to writing, “Good is the enemy of great.”

I feel like this morning, at least for these few minutes, I have a grasp on one of the things we need to do if we want to plow past good and get to great. It has to do with acknowledging the possibility of failure. I’m working on some revisions right now. I feel like there’s a decent chance I can beat this new book into something good, and I’ve been trying to push away the voices of self-doubt. But this morning, it occurred to me that by pushing those voices away, I’m closing myself up. If I want this book to be better than good, if I want it to be great, I need to open myself. I need to acknowledge that it could be a huge flop. I need to open my heart and let the possibility — even the likelihood — of failure in. I need to let failure sit close to me while I’m writing; I need to lean into it. Never forgetting about failure — but never giving up to it, either, always trying as hard as I can — maybe I can achieve something great.

Maybe this is psychobabble and y’all are going to revoke my right to give writing advice, or even say things… but you do whatever you need to do. My head is clear now. Time to get to work.

(NY pictures coming soon!)