Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Will It Ever Be Good Enough?

When I did software development, there was definitely a clear line when a new application was good enough to put into production.  If the application was functional, had no major errors, and provided at least the basic functionality that was requested by the end users, it was a go.  If it was pretty, that was fantastic but unnecessary.  The bottom line is that it needed to do its job.  If the application served its intended purpose and was used by people, it was a success and made me very proud.

Writing technical documentation feels the same to me.  If the instructions and information are clear, the presentation is logical, the text is free from obvious errors, and people can actually use the documentation for its intended purpose, it is perfection.  There's always room for improvement, but why bother when it serves its purpose, when it's good enough.

Poetry and fiction writing is totally different though.  At home, I can write a poem in twenty minutes, be gleaming with happiness and feel like I've wrapped an idea in a beautiful, compact package.  I feel like it's perfect until it's time to consider getting it published.  Last night I decided it was time to attempt to get several of my poems published.  The university I attended in my twenties has a poetry journal.  The professor in charge was one of my favorites.  If anyone would get my poems, it would be him.

As I thought about it more, I panicked and my entire body filled with anxiety that I couldn't calm or set aside.  As I reformatted the poems into the format requested and read the lines again, self-doubt filled me to the point of overflowing.  If this professor rejected my work, who could possibly like it?  I want to apply to the MA program at this college as soon as my son is old enough for preschool.  If they publish the poems, this would really help my chances for admission; if they reject them, I could be ruining my chances right now. 

While writing poetry and stories is so much more gratifying than software development, I'm not sure if I am ever going to feel like my writing is good enough.  Good enough for me to satisfy my need to be creative isn't the same as being good enough to be published.

Tonight I have another writing class.  I have no doubt I will walk in filled with anxiety; I hope I walk out the door with at least some of my confidence restored.

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