DJ Mansker lives in southeast Arizona. By day, DJ puts her twenty plus years of experience in the trenches of social work to use in the protective services. By night, she is a closet novelist and wait staff to her cat Trinidad. As a member of several local and national writers organizations she continues to hone her writing skills as she works to complete her first novel.
The Pursuit of Perfection
–Superman had his booth. You have confession corner. A bizarre, if not insane, straight dialogue between a booth and its confessor. Could this be you?
I have to get this poster up by the weekend. The parade of homes starts this Saturday. A lot of people will be milling about, and I want to put my best footing forward. Hee hee! I kill me. Maybe I could march in the parade. If those homes can take to the street, my little confessional booth ought to be able to make it. Ha! Ha! I’m on a roll.
Urf . . . If I could just get this trim molding to stay in place . . . I could get this frame to hang straight. I need a good carpenter, one with a t-square and a level.
Oh, and look at the fingerprints on the glass over this picture. I’ll have to clean it up before I can hang it anyway. Aghhh! The frame is catywhompas. There’s no way to hang a picture straight if the frame is crooked. Oh, for crying out loud! Look at that. The hanger is hanging half off the backing. Oh! Hang it all!
Oh! Pardon me, sir. I didn’t see you standing there. Please, come in. I’m open for business. No, really, it’s fine. Come all the way in. I was just trying to get a poster up before the weekend. So, how can I help you?
Well, I need to do a little venting. I seem to be getting hung up on some small stuff and it’s creating problems.
I was doing a little venting myself, so pay no attention to the odor. What exactly is hanging you up these days?
The problem is with my writing. I’m not making much headway, and I’m taking some flack for it. I can’t seem to get it just right.
Ooo. I hear ya. Having trouble moving forward, heh? Had a lady in here a while back with a similar problem. Hers was procrastination—found every reason in the book not to get started. She was perpetually fixin’ to commence to get started.
I get started, all right. Every day I get started. I just can’t seem to get past the getting started. It’s never quite right. I can’t move on until I get it perfect. My editors and writing coaches are constantly telling me I need to get it all down and not to worry about editing it until later. How can an editor tell me not to edit? That’s ludicrous. Would they tell a heart surgeon to just cut anywhere? Don’t worry about starting at the knees. We’ll stitch that up later. Would you want to go to that doctor? I mean really, c’mon.
Hey! I know exactly what you’re saying. Look at this parade of homes poster. How can I possibly hang it up? It’s making the whole place look out of whack. Is the molding crooked, or the wall, or the frame? And look at the mess on the glass! I can’t hang this picture until I get all the other stuff straightened out. It just keeps piling up. If we don’t take care of it to begin with, it just keeps growing until it’s out of control. I’m trying to get spruced up for the parade of homes and the parade of homes committee tells me just to hang the picture and quit worrying about the rest until after the event. They don’t think anyone will notice. Why in the world would anyone come by if not to notice, for crying out loud? Is there no pride in workmanship anymore, no sense of responsibility to do it right the first time?
Exactly! Why make more work for yourself down the line? If it needs fixing, fix it.
Absolutely. You’re singing my song, so sing it to the rafters. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time. So tell me, what exactly are you writing, a novel, short story?
It’s supposed to be a novel. At this point the only thing novel is a new paragraph. No matter what I put down, I’m always thinking of something that would be better. So I end up re-writing the same paragraph a dozen times. Eventually I get frustrated with it and walk away. Of course, as soon as I come back to it, I’m rewriting that same paragraph again. By the way, there’s a little paint splatter here on the molding above the doorway. If you stand facing out and bend over sideways to your right and look up under the curtain rod, you can see it.
To my right? How far over? Oh. Never mind, I see it. I’ll need to get that fixed too. Thanks for pointing that out. So, back to the novel. How far along are you, eight, nine chapters?
I’m about twelve pages into the first chapter. But I am confident those twelve pages are as good as they’re gonna get.
How long have you been working on it?
Only about two years, but my publisher is threatening to drop me. He said he was a patient man, but now he’s just an im-patient. I thought we had an understanding about my process. I made it clear when I started that I wasn’t one to pump out pages like an oil derrick. He says I’m overly cautious.
And I’ll bet he says that like it’s a bad thing.
Yes! You get me. You really get me. Oh, and that finishing nail on the end of the shoe molding by the door is about an inch and a half off.
Really? That could make everything look off. Maybe I should address that before the molding above the door. I’ll get those taken care of first, then it will make sense to try to go on.
I need to get back to my writing. I was on my way to the bookstore for a thesaurus when I saw your booth. If I can find just the right word, I’m sure I can move on to the next sentence today.
Ah. A man after my own foundation. Getting it exactly right is the only way to go. I’ll get this trim done, the paint touched up, and the glass cleaned, then I can get back to . . . What was it I was supposed to be doing? Oh! Yes! The poster.