Make Do and Mend: learning to accept ‘good enough’

I’ve been umming and ahhing for a while about the idea of having a podcast, where I’d get some of the writers I know to tell the ‘story’ of their creative journey, or maybe use it as a platform to read and share pieces of my own creative work.

But I’ve hesitated over the idea for what turns out to have been years.  Mostly because the technical side of it scares me. After all, I’m a writer, not an audio-visual expert.  People train for ages to do that kind of thing so it’s bound to be complicated, and surely I don’t have the right recording equipment?

This despite having an iPhone, which I bought several years ago entirely because I heard an artist speak about a wonderful community project she’d done which she’d filmed with a simple microphone plugged into an iPhone.

But even after upgrading my phone, I still hadn’t had the nerve to record myself doing anything other than a few ‘try-outs’ at home. Frankly, uploading them was too scary – I didn’t want people to hear them and think ‘how amateurish!’ or, worse, ‘what an idiot!’

Until last week, that is. Christmas Eve, to be precise, when I received a message asking for a recording of a piece I’d read out at a Christmas carol service the week before.

I’d written it at the request of the rector of the local parish church. The town’s mayor – Councillor Brenda Seaton – is supporting Dementia UK during her year in office and Reverend Wendy asked myself and her Musical Director, Emma Trounson, to visit local care homes for the elderly and ask residents for their memories of Christmas.  Her idea was that Emma and I would turn these into something to be shared during the mayor’s annual carol service in the run up to Christmas.

Which is what we did.  I worked the memories into a piece of prose and Emma created a musical arrangement around them, playing the voila over some parts and singing lines from Christmas carols inbetween others. We shared the piece in two sections around other parts of the service and they went down very well.  So much so we decided they deserved a wider audience and should be uploaded online.

Hence the message.  Emma apologised for asking on such a busy day but if I had time to send her a recording of my bit, she could add her bit and share it round whilst we still had the ‘Christmas window’ it was applicable to.

As it happened, the fact that I was busy and the ‘window’ time-limited was of huge benefit.  I had no time for anxious over-thinking or to keep re-recording to get a perfect version.  Having the house to myself for half an hour I looked out my script from the week before, read through the piece once to practice, then recorded myself reading it on my iPhone.  Messed up the ending of the first recording but did it once more then sent it to Emma.  It wasn’t perfect but it’d have to do – it was good enough.

It was make do and mend, in fact, and though I can easily pick out the imperfections in my reading as I listen to it, I think the finished piece with Emma’s beautiful arrangement added works really well.  Check it out here to see if you agree!

Obviously, there’s a lesson in this for me about letting go of perfectionism and fear of failure and having the courage to try things out.  About accepting things as ‘good enough.’  As American author Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project puts it:

“A twenty-minute walk that I do is better than the four-mile run that I don’t do. The imperfect book that gets published is better than the perfect book that never leaves my computer.”

There are so many things I don’t action because of fear they’ll not be ‘perfect,’ but experience keeps reinforcing that they’re good enough. Definitely something for me to think about addressing in the New Year!

Myself (left) with Reverend Wendy Dalrymple and Emma Trounson of All Saints with Holy Trinity, Loughborough.

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