Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If You Aren't Perfect, Just Don't Play
When our oldest daughter Beth was about 5 and learning to read and write, she had a hand-held electronic game called a Speak & Spell. The game was early computer technology available about the same time as Pac-Man in the early 80s. 

A computer voice would say, "Spell 'curtain,'" at which point the player was to supposed to push the letter buttons to spell the word. If you got it right, the voice would say, "Correct. Spell 'action.'" After 10 such words in sequence, if you spelled all the words correctly, the voice would say, "Perfect Score." If you missed two of the ten, the voice would say, "Eight correct. Two wrong. Try again."

But we seldom heard anything other than "Perfect Score." That's because if Beth ever missed a word, she turned the game off and started over again. My husband and I laughed at this for years.Then recently I realized that's exactly what I've done, not with a Speak & Spell, but with writing whenever it hasn't gone exactly right.

Perfectionism is really a tender ego wearing a disguise. Sometimes it's a little girl who's been praised for being smart and doesn't want to be wrong--ever. Sometimes it's a not-so-little girl who can't admit that it's not the easiest thing in the world to sit down and crank out wonderful stories, even if almost every other thing she tried came easily.

The little girl played Speak & Spell over and over until she didn't have to turn it off; she learned how to spell every single word. The not-so-little girl is going to keep doing what she couldn't do at first too.

And I don't mean play Pac-Man. Although I was never able to do that either.


  1. imho:Perfectionism can be a dream killing soul cancer. just talking about myself here...

  2. Lib, You're a master of understatement. :) FYI, perfectionists are not allowed to comment on my blog.