Posted in books, creativity, fiction, music, Shadows and Ghosts, writing

An Imperfect Stitch

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There is an error in Shadows and Ghosts.

During occasional battles with an ongoing obsession over symmetry and accuracy, I’ve considered correcting it…but only momentarily.


In 1975, Leon Redbone released his album, On the Track, which contains a rendition Of “Ain’t Misbehavin” (lyrics by Andy Razaf and music by Thomas “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks).

Redbone’s interpretation is slightly off-kilter: the intonation struggles in places, and there are extra beats sprinkled throughout. But I love it. Its off-balance rhythmic irregularities, the nasal grit in Redbone’s voice, the imperfect instrumental tones and pitches feel fresh and authentic.  They transform a great song into a greater one.


My mother was a perfectionist. Today we would likely say her attention to detail was compulsive. But that compulsiveness got her far, made her successful at everything she did. Although I’ve spent most of life as an unapologetic underachiever, I have no doubt that some of her “perfectionism” rubbed off on me. You can’t spend hours practicing scales and arpeggios, isolated musical passages over and over without being at least a little compulsive. It’s the only way to train the brain, develop fine motor skills, make the muscles remember.

But it’s not always enough.

Along with compulsive tendencies, creation demands an oblique and often fractured perspective, a willingness to look at subject matter, construction, sideways and through a prism.


When I think of the thousands of books I’ve read, pieces of music I’ve played, I realize most of them contained errors and/or irregularities, some degree of strangeness in small or large ways that established the works as fresh and unique, that transformed and elevated them.

So I keep my error in place, because in important ways, it acts as a type of cipher.  And to reinforce its importance, I put a prism in plain view.

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Listening. Observing.

6 thoughts on “An Imperfect Stitch

  1. I have a collection of errors. Hair color change, an odd time jump and even a complete name change from one book to the next. In this day of digital, it is so tempting shoot for perfect. We could read and reread our days away. But if there’s no such thing as perfect, why bother? We get as close and we can and then let it go. I love this post, Barb, and that you leave that little or big error right where it is. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tracy! Errors? Your books feel lovely and magical to me, thoroughly honest and heartfelt. So, I am truly flattered to be in your company! And I agree with everything you say. It is so important to just let those things go and move on.

      Here’s to the creative spirit! Write on! (Raising a glass.) 🙂


  2. I can sympathise! I have learnt (the hard way!) that perfectionism can be a form of fear. As you know, I’ve been learning and practising Qigong for about a year and a half. Qigong has a 70% rule. Whatever you do, do it to 70% only. If you give 100%, you have nothing left. Psychologically, this philosophy works wonders, since without the pressure and with the added enjoyment, you inevitably achieve a lot more, but effortlessly.

    Liked by 1 person

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