History will be shaped by your ability (or lack of) to tame your perfectionism
Constantine P. Cavafy (1863 - 1933) is one of the most highly regarded Greek poets of his time. According to the Poetry Foundation, he was private about his poetry. He shared his work with friends and published very little. There is speculation that this was the case because of the sexually explicit nature of much of his poetry.
However, Louis de Bernieres, author of ‘Imagining Alexandria’, an anthology dedicated to Cavafy writes, “Cavafy is a poet who never leaves you. He gets under your skin...
...It seems he was a perfectionist and kept only a tiny proportion of what he wrote.”
Perhaps it was his homosexuality given away by his erotic poetry, that held him back from sharing a great deal of his work. Perhaps it was his perfectionism. Maybe it was both?
What hit me was the realisation that perfectionism can leave a hole in our history.
It’s okay that much of Cavafy’s work was not published; he had his reasons. But as a writer myself, who aspires to be published, I have to make a daily choice to loosen my grip and negotiate with my inner critic in a way that is not going to hold me back from achieving my dreams.
If I don’t, my work will never see the light of day.
One hundred years after Cavafy, his work is still inspiring people. Imagine what could have been, if he kept more of what he wrote.
I don’t want to get to the end and have to imagine what could have been, with regards to my writing.
Publishing on this blog every week is helping me to overcome my fears. Particularly those around my writing being ‘out there’ for everyone to see and critique.
However, I am so focussed on potential criticisms that I gloss over the possibility that there are people out there who might enjoy my writing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re open or private, loud or soft-spoken, introverted or extroverted; you have something valuable to gift to humanity. And that could be five people or five million people; each life matters.
Culture criticises when you put yourself out there and you don’t pull it off perfectly. Still, be counter-cultural.
What you give of yourself will have ripple effects throughout history.