Well, folks, it’s almost December. Can you believe it?
Since this is my last post of the year, I thought I’d start by congratulating everyone who accomplished everything you set out to do this year, perfectly and effortlessly, exactly as you envisioned. Bravo! (You can leave now.)
This post is for the rest of us—anyone who struggled with a manuscript, or illustrations, or architectural designs, or gardening projects, or diets and self-improvement plans. Anyone who felt frustrated that the things you produced weren’t nearly as fabulous as what you’d envisioned, despite the hours and effort invested. Anyone who felt anger, or self-loathing, or said “I quit!” once or twice along the way.
If, like me, you fall into the latter group, here’s a charming little dose of encouragement.
In Ashley Spire’s The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press, 2014), we meet a creative (and unnamed) young girl and her canine assistant who set out to make something, well . . . magnificent. When they’re done,
They are shocked to discover that the thing isn’t magnificent. Or good. It isn’t even kind-of-sort-of okay. It is all WRONG.
They keep trying—tweaking, adjusting, examining, starting over. And it still doesn’t work. The girl gets frustrated. Then mad.
The angrier she gets, the faster she works. She SMASHES pieces into shapes. She JAMS parts together. She PUMMELS the little bits in.
All that angry smashing and pummeling leads to a crushed finger. And a tantrum. And this:
Boy, do I relate to this child.
Luckily, her wise companion responds with a leash. She reluctantly joins him on a walk, and—lo and behold—her anger dissipates, her head begins to clear, and she realizes maybe her project isn’t ENTIRELY worthless. So she takes what’s good and keeps working on it.
She works carefully and slowly, tinkering, hammering, twisting, fiddling, gluing, painting . . . Her assistant makes sure there are no distractions.
And, what do you know? She creates something that works. It isn’t perfect, exactly, but it IS magnificent.
(By the way, two things jump out at from those lines: She works slowly, with no distractions. Anyone else find that challenging?)
After picking up this book, I discovered it’s quite popular with teachers, as it nicely encapsulates the educational concepts of grit and the growth mindset (if you’re interested, you can find several lesson plans online from Kids Can Press, Scholastic, and The NED Show).
But it’s a valuable reminder to adults, as well, especially those of us involved in any sort of creative endeavor. So here’s to the creative slog—and to patience, perseverance, and long, head-clearing walks. May they lead to something magnificent.
Thanks for reading, and see you next year!
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P.S. The winner of This Is Not a Cat! from the David LaRochelle post giveaway is Marilyn Garcia. Congratulations, Marilyn!
I’m going to need to put a copy of this under every tree this year – and at every desk, table, chair….
What a most magnificent find!
Hey there, Mary Jane. Yes, it would make an excellent gift! Definitely one that’s worth re-reading every few months (weeks? days?) or so.
I think that I need a copy to remind myself not to worry about creating a masterpiece, but to create the best piece I can at the time I’m creating.
Yes, Quinette! It’s definitely an excellent reminder for those of us with perfectionist tendencies.
Thank you for the reminder, a very magnificent way to end the year!
Sounds like a great book for every boss to give their employees. We don’t have to be magnificent to succeed. Magnificently done.
Yes, I really think it’s valuable for everyone to read. Thanks, Sheryl!
Thanks for this post Linda!
Thanks for reading, Amanda!
Linda – you’ve been saving this book for a year-end post, I’ll bet. And rightly so. It is perfect (or as perfect as a book can be.) Thanks!
Ha! I actually only discovered it about a month ago, but it did seem like just the right book for my final post of the year. Thanks, Sandy!
Wonderful post, Linda. Thank you!!
Thanks for reading, Judy!
Thanks for the post, Linda. I love this book! A wonderful reminder about the process of creativity!
It really is, Judy. Thanks for reading!
i’m adding this book to my list of must read’s. Sounds like everyone should have their own copy.
I agree, Sue. Definitely a must-read.
This book is a must read! Thanks for all your insights and wisdom this year, Linda. I enjoy this blog and all the contributors very much. =)
I think you’ll really like it, Bridget. Thanks so much for reading the blog!
Thanks for all your great posts this year Linda. 🙂
Thanks so much for reading, Cathy. Wishing you many magnificent things in the coming year!
Love this book! The girl is even wearing the angry color red!
Yes, you’re right, Kathy! Ashley Spires does an excellent job of conveying a range of emotions (even for the dog!).
Thank you, Linda, for reminding me of how much I need this book! And thank you for your posts throughout this year. See you in 2017!
I think we all need to read it periodically, Anne. Few magnificent things happen easily! Thanks so much for reading.
Love this book on so many levels. I think I might have to have a copy open on my wall. Thanks for the inspiration.
Sounds like an excellent idea, Kathy! Thanks for reading.
Thanks, Linda. Let’s just say I find this character to be exceptionally relatable.
Yes, me too. It reminded me of your “Let it go” post, which resonated with me, having shelved a couple of projects this year. Even the long walks didn’t help. 🙂
This is great timing. After a year of struggling with all the issues that come up with any creative en devour it’s a reminder that the struggle is worth it. Wow!
Thank you, Linda.
Yes, it’s worth it, Cassie!
Jill, what a perfect, magnificent book to end the year. TY for all you have given the kid lit community this year. May your holidays be happy, and may we all take it slowly and look for the gift and the beauty in creation.
Thanks for reading, Kathy–and happy holidays to you, too!
I really have to get this book! I need to read it to my 5 year old grandson. Both of us might learn something! Thanks and have a wonderful holiday season.
Yes, Linda, it definitely has value for the grownups as well as the kids!
Sounds too good to miss! Must get this one. 🙂
I sure did need this post today. Thanks for reading my mind and presenting the perfect picture book to address my issues! Whew! I feel better already.
This book really hits the nail on the head, so to speak. Great post, thank you.
Excellent, excellent reminder! I need to get a copy of this book so I can re-read it frequently.
Thanks for sharing this inspiration, and great book. What a wonderful way to begin the New Year!