Writing and Living the Imperfect Story

Have you ever wondered why you’re the only person with an imperfect life?

A few days ago, I was thinking about all the things that I wanted to change this year.  Improving my health is on the top of that list (again).  As as I put the list of little things that weren’t so healthy or could be seen as imperfect about my body, the list ended up being much longer than I expected.  In addition to my imperfect body list, this year there was an unprecedented avalanche of things that broke in and around my house from my dishwasher to a wobbly old car to leaks in the plumbing.  In many ways, my finances are broken too. The amount of situations that are imperfect in my life is long and the list of quick and easy solutions isn’t.  Yet, I go on, and life is not only good, but in many ways wondrous.

Much of our society seems to believe that lives that are neat and tidy, healthy and pure, organized and purged of imperfection are signs of a life well lived.  If we subscribe to that point of view, we can get very unhappy about our own life’s journey when things start to fall apart as they inevitably do with age and time.  We can feel like we’re doing something wrong, when in truth we may be living fully in tune with our life’s rhythms, and need to come to peace with the less than “ideal”.

When we write, we can also get caught up in too much of a drive for perfection, so much so that our characters become free of flaws and come across as wooden and unrealistic.  Our non-fiction books can be factual and slick, but void of the spirit of life that can only come from a person who understands how to communicate with a vulnerable heart about their subject.

If you’re wondering how to bring more soul into your writing or life, this might be a good time to learn more about the Japanese principle of Wabi Sabi. My appreciation for the impermanent and imperfect was increased the first time that I read, one of my favorite books Wabi Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers by Leonard Koren.   I came away from reading that book with an appreciation for the beauty of imperfection that has stayed with me.  To stay in touch with this very grounded perspective of life, I make it a practice to re-read that book at least once per year.

Today as I thought about Wabi Sabi, I came up with some solutions for problems with my novel.  There is not enough beautiful imperfection in certain chapters.  For the next couple of days, I’ve set aside time to make room for the imperfect in both my creative work and my life.

How about you? Do you honor the imperfect through your writing or art?  Do you see the beauty in your “imperfections”?

5 thoughts on “Writing and Living the Imperfect Story

    • Karen Wan says:

      Ledia, I appreciate your support so much, and I’m glad you enjoy my blogs.

      Your blogs are wonderful. I love the recent reblog about the square watermelons in addition to so many others — I’m learning so much about Japan from you, in a fun and accessible way. Thank you for all that you do!

  1. LediaR says:

    Reblogged this on Writing Tips and commented:
    I love reading Karen’s blog to writers. She is always so wise and gentle with her sage advice.
    PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL BLOGGER’S POSTS. They were kind enough to let me share this wonderful article with you.

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