Perfection In Two Questions, By Lynda Collins

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Perfection is something unattainable because it is socially constructed; therefore, it is inaccurate to say that there is a “perfect” style of writing. In “Two Questions,” Lynda Barry introduces the two questions that haunt many when writing: “Is it good?” and “Does this suck?” She explains how these two questions are developed from life experience and the need to please others. In relation to Barry’s “Two Questions,” Anne Lamott gives reason and alternatives for dealing with the need to be perfect and why we should not let that need be the obstacle between us and our “Shitty First Draft” in Bird by Bird. Using both texts, I relate their experiences with my own, detailing the common struggle to please others and be perfect. Although people…show more content…
However, these techniques that I fostered as a child proved lacking when I entered middle school. It turns out that in comparison to my previous writing, I was no longer writing for my own self-improvement or joy; I was now writing to please someone who was grading the work. After many dissatisfying remarks about my writing, the self-conscious feelings I had as a child crept up on me once again. I felt the need to impress and be perfect. For every paper I wrote from then on, there was that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I had to try twice as hard because English was my second language. For a very long time, I was not able to write a paper without scrutinizing it harshly. “The oppressor,” as Anne Lammot states in “Bird by Bird,” kept me from what I truly wanted to write and made me focus on the unattainable goal of being perfect. Perfection is something that “… limit[s] us…[and] keep[s] us from experiencing life” (Lammott 30). The purpose was not to write for me, but for others, and that was my flaw; I was just writing to please. Technicality was my only worry and I did not worry if what I was writing actually had…show more content…
Although a personal statement is supposed to be mine, in the back of my head, I was thinking that an admission officer would look at this sheet of paper I had written and base my admission on it. Then I felt that although this was supposed to be my story, it was not really what I wanted to say because the purpose was to please someone else. At a certain point, all creativity was gone and my only goal was to have a perfect personal statement. The need to have a perfect personal statement did not allow me to write an essay that was truly me. I already had my mind set that I was going to write what I thought the reader wanted to hear instead of what I truly wanted. I decided, however, that although the two questions of “Is it good?” and “Does this suck?” Barry presents would haunt me for the rest of my life, if my personal statement was not truly me, then I was getting into schools for the wrong reasons. It was surprising how, for so long, I struggled writing this life-altering essay and when I just let it go, and started writing without worrying about perfectionism, I “…was both there and not there… and the lines made a picture and the picture made a story” (124). I was able to write an essay that mattered to me as opposed to something that was a misguided version of myself. It took me a week to write the essay I used instead of the three months it
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