When my little girl turned one, my mother made her a pink flannel blanket. It was covered with smiley daisies, and it took about 30 seconds for her to glom onto it as an inseparable appendage. She couldn't say blanky yet, so she simply called it 'wahggie.' Mornings were not complete until she was wrapped in her wahggie, playtime never the same unless it was within arm's reach.
And then one day she woke up and asked for her banky. It was the same flannel (now a bit faded), the same smiley daisies. I sniffed a little and sighed; a piece of her childhood had ended. The banky went on to become her 'fler banky,' at which point it began fraying around the edges, and then the 'flawr blanky.' Finally, when it had lost nearly all it's stuffing and my little girl was old enough to read and write, it became her 'flower blanket.' She still occasionally snuggles with its deflated remains.
So often when I write, I want the words to come out perfectly the first time. Oh, I've read all the posts from authors about how horrid their first drafts are, but I've also read their published books, and I have this sneaking suspicion that their horrid and my horrid are on completely different planes of existence. I despair, I mourn. Sometimes I can't get the words onto the paper because of how awful I know they will be.
What if I had expected the same perfection from my daughter? What if 'wahggie' just wasn't good enough and nothing else would do but 'flower blanket?' I would have missed out on so much. Her smiles, would have turned to frowns, her unbridled passion for that brand new, bright and cheery blanky would have been lost.
I guess what I'm trying to say is (for those of you like me who stress yourselves out when writing), would it really be so bad to treat our stories like our babies? We call them our babies (I know you do). We have hopes and dreams and aspirations for them. And yet, how many of us wish they would leap from our brow like Athena from Zeus, fully formed and ready for battle with agents and publishers.
Maybe there is joy to be found in the imperfection of a childish first draft. Maybe we can trust that our manuscripts will grow up through the various revisions, the words will mature, the fabric of the story will wear to a comfortable softness that we couldn't imagine any other way (maybe we'll even lose some stuffing in the process).
Maybe, we really can relax enough to love and nurture the unbridled passion of writing and know that there will be time enough later to take care of the rest.