Practice Makes Possible

As a recovering perfectionist, I remind myself on a regular basis that nothing is perfect. But practice does make possible.

I’ve written a lot of words over the years, and as it turns out, none of them were wasted. Even the glorified grocery list was practice for bigger things. I always assumed that perfection was the standard by which these words had to be measured, so naturally, my words never measured up. I cast a cold eye over my blogs, my lists, my little side stories, and banished them into a drawer. It was years before I dared let them creep onto the internet.

The real breakthrough for me was trying National Novel Writing Month. I know you went on that journey with me and were as surprised as I was at what was possible. And let me rephrase that one with Yoda’s help. There was no try. There was only “Do or Do Not”. I discovered that self-discipline was also a possibility. As absolutely weak as it was (is), there was just enough willpower (stubborn keyboard smashing) behind my focus that a book came out on the other side.

Once my perspective shifted away from perfectionism (a fancy word for control), my words flowed faster, easier, and buzzed with the joy of creation.

It’s been said that you can’t rush genius. I took genius by the ear and hurled it through walls.

Editors are the janitors of the writing world. They’ll clean up that mess later.

The results continue to be both astonishing and addicting. Below are the books I wrote before turning to Loveda Brown. Every book I will ever write is a “practice book”. This perspective is what makes it possible for me. Possible enough that the last one won awards without even being published.

If you find fun and freedom in some form that continues to shadow you, I challenge you to turn around and stare it down. See what happens when you commit to it for a month. Is it music? Watercolors? Karate? Gardening? Dance? Baking? Quilting? Yoga?

What do you think might be suddenly possible if you practiced?

Rom-Com. Completed Nov 2019 at 62,200 words. Practice manuscript.

Regina’s new job in a catering company lands her in the middle of a fantastic Hotel Del Coronado wedding where her fast thinking saves the day and gets the attention of both the wedding planner and the hottest man at the party. Between her fiesty grandfather, a dachshund named Dufus, her bestie, her neighbors, and offers she can’t refuse, can Gina find her place at last?

Historical Fiction. Completed March 2020 at 80,300 words. Practice manuscript.

In 1888, three families leave Texas and head west, seeking a homestead and a haven for their faith. Young hot-headed Joe Campbell and his sweetheart, Lidy, elope in the night and race to join them. Deep in the secluded mountaintops of New Mexico, hard work and strong ideals are no surety against the internal demons of pride, passion, disillusion, and politics. As a new century arrives, and Joe and Lidy must watch helplessly as the next generation questions the price of isolation and exclusivity and whether they will live the Truth…or a lie.

Historical Faith Fiction. Completed Sept 2021 at 100,500 words. Currently in edits, seeking traditional publication. (Maybe!)

In Roman conquered Israel, two sisters break tradition to raise their baby brother and keep their home intact. Jesus’ rising ministry begins challenging the status quo, both personal and global. When their brother dies and Jesus resurrects him, the women must decide whether to risk violence, rejection, and losing everything they spent their lives fighting for, to protect Jesus.

January and The Joy of Good Enough

Hi, my name is Jolie and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I have OCD and ADD, which means everything has to be perfect, but not for very long.

I will sneak into your living room and line up the pillows on your couch.

I will rewrite a sentence until it begs for mercy.

And I will definitely have some great ideas on how to organize a pantry.

If there’s one thing I love, is being bossy highly opinionated full of great ideas.

January is my achilles heel. I look at the rest of the months and I’m ready to make my lists of great ideas.

Self improvement. Home improvement. Be a better mom. Be a better Christian. Be a better wife. The month explodes with resolutions, challenges, goal setting, and trend setting.

I’m usually too busy starting things to finish things.

“Yes!” I cry, “I can do it all! I will finally stop being so darn lazy and inadequate!”

All I have to do is apply more mascara, lose five pounds, get up an hour earlier, have sparkling grout in the shower, meditate daily, call my mother….

Perfection will always lean on the doorbell.

Pour a cup of tea and sit with me for a minute.

I have learned to let it go.

Honey, a lifetime of fighting the uphill battle between a clean house and five kids should have taught me that. You will never call me a quitter.

But it was leaving the house and the kids that proved to me “letting go” was an option.

Did you catch that one thing I just said? The lie? The bit that snuck in here and acted like it belongs?

It was the whisper scream: “I will finally stop being inadequate”.

THIS is what I “let go”.

Believe me when I tell you I can be (if I wanted to) lazy, but the guilt of inadequacy drives a lot of us right off the deep end.

I should have folded laundry in drawers, not under the table in heaps.

My family should be prepared and cheerful on Sunday mornings, not filled with “Hurry!” or “Find your shoe…why do you only own ONE shoe?” or “I don’t care what you just put in the toilet, we’re leaving NOW”.

My marriage should be romantic get-aways and nurturing conversations, not stale chips on the couch, binge-watching Psych.

But it all happened and surprise! Not only was I not suddenly inadequate, but I was handed the key:

You are good enough right here right now. Even with one shoe missing. Deeply loved. Just for sitting there.

Let that just sink in like a baking soda paste for a moment.

What happened – in my quest to have and do everything I thought I needed to be a good wife, mother, human – was the recognition that I already had it. All along.

My self of ten years ago would laugh herself silly over this revelation and continue scrubbing the grout without skipping a beat.

And so I release you to discover these things as well, if you dare. I let (because I have this choice) my kids choose, cook, serve, and clean up many meals now. They boil frozen hotdogs, serve them on bread with a side veggie of ketchup, and tell me all about their day. I sit there exhausted and deliriously happy to see their faces and hear their chatter and not once question why my socks stick to the floor.

I look around and I am just so grateful. Over and over and over.

I’m getting rather good at it, because practice makes perfect…er, good enough.

Time for Tea!