Yes, it’s true. Carving a pumpkin can truly change your life. Especially if you’re using a really sharp knife and it slips…
But seriously. I spent some rather unproductive time last night attempting to create a pumpkin masterpiece. Now, we ALL know I have no artistic ability whatsoever. I can draw neither a straight nor curvy line, cannot paint, cannot sculpt, and am not in any other way artsy or craftsy. I wasn’t only a pariah in gym class… art class was my second least favorite subject.
And yet, as Halloween is my favorite holiday, each year I desire to create that perfect, most sincere Jack-O-Lantern. In my mind, I am imagining this:
And each year, I pretty much end up with something like this.
This year, I finally figured out how it happens. It’s all about revision. Yes, there, I said it. A dirty little writer word. See, what happens is that I keep feeling unsatisfied, so I keep trimming and deleting and refining and modifying, until… well, it’s like cutting your own bangs, isn’t it? You want them to be even, but you’re not a professional stylist, so you keep making tiny adjustments when you find they’re not quite right on that one side and then you look in the mirror and you find you’ve got this:
Yeah. Stories, bangs, pumpkins, it’s all the same. And it doesn’t stop there. For me, anyway, since nothing is ever perfect, and I’m one of those people who need to fix/manage/control my world, I try to tweak everything. Constantly. Like, to death.
So I’m trying to teach an old dog a new trick. Maybe, just maybe, my crappy pumpkin carving, while still probably crappy, is okay. Maybe the heart and soul that I put into it will trump my relatively paltry skill at carving. Maybe, by practicing pumpkin carving every day in the weeks running up to Halloween I’ll improve my skill. Or maybe, just maybe, I need to learn to let what I create be whatever it is and be satisfied with it, knowing that I am my own worst critic and that it probably isn’t anywhere near as bad as I think it is. (Although in the case of pumpkins, I might have to accept reality… )
I mean, yes, we always want to improve and that’s not a bad thing. But if we’ve tried our best, constant cutting and trimming and correcting may just end up destroying what we set out to create. Not just in art, not just in writing, not just in pumpkin carving, but in everything.
So this year, I’m going to go buy another pumpkin. And I’m going to carve it the best I am currently able. I’ll even post pictures. It might not be a masterpiece, but I guarantee it will be sincere enough to make the Great Pumpkin happy. And for once, this year, I will be too!
Illegitimi non carborundum!