Monday, April 26, 2010

Wabi Sabi

This weekend I read an article about "wabi sabi" which is the Japanese philosophy of embracing imperfection (to sum it up imperfectly).

Beauty is transient and so we find peace in the worn, the wrinkled, and the not-so-perfect aspects of our lives.

The last two days, I've been trying to live this philosophy.

Toys on the floor? wabi sabi

Stack of paper collecting in my kitchen? wabi sabi

Buzz light-year shoes with his brand-new church suit? Scratches on my coffee table? Poop-stains on my cute baby clothes? Scuffs on the wall? WABI SABI!

(By the way, there needs to be a better balance between a wabi sabi home and a zen home, because after a weekend of saying "wabi sabi" to all messes, it's a huge disaster.)

What about the messes, the incongruencies, the scratches, and the poop-stains in my manuscript? Just like I need to learn to live in an imperfect house and live with an imperfect me, I need to learn to write in an imperfect manuscript.

When I edit, I can try and perfect it. But not now. I am writing my second draft, but it is still a draft and I've been striving too hard for perfect.

I don't want this draft to be quite the train wreck my first draft was. I find that as I write, I need a scene to be strong before I build on it with another scene. Strong, not perfect.

What about you? Do you need a little wabi sabi in your manuscript?


  1. When I first read the title to this post, I thought "mmmm, wasabi." :)

    Seriously though, sounds like my kind of theory. Embrace the imperfection. It's really the only way to go. Otherwise you just drive yourself into the ground. And there are too many things in life that could potentially do that. Writing shouldn't be one of them.

  2. Wabi Sabi - I love it. I need to needle point that on a throw pillow or something...if only I knew how to needle point. haha :)

    Definitely go for strong, not perfect. Nothing is perfect. (This is something I have to remind myself of as well.) I mean, think about some of the YA fiction that is out there. I'm sure your even your first draft exceeds some of those by leaps and bounds.

  3. I love the imperfections in the books I read. I think it adds to the beauty of the whole, kind of like Cindy Crawford's mole aka beauty mark. Like a person, it makes it more real, more believable.

  4. I'm at the need to be zen with my manuscript, with my other draft definitely wasabi.

    I think that will be my new favourite word.

  5. I love this idea! Sometimes I don't write anything because I know it isn't perfect. I need some of that Wabi Sabi!

  6. Renee-That's right. We write because we love it. Why add to the stress in our lives? Now I have to go google wasabi.

    Kelli-I want that needle-point pillow as well. And I'd like to think my first draft may be better than some published fiction, but it's pretty ugly.

    Shelli-I guess there is no "perfect" book out there because we are, after all, just imperfect humans.

    Patti-I believe you absolutely got my point. However, as I just googled wasabi (prompted by Renee's comment-see above) you want your manuscript to be Japanese horseradish.

    Jessica-Too much wabi sabi is probably not a good thing. Like my very messy house this weekend, remember? Yet, viewing your life through wabi sabi eyes really reduces stress.

    Aubrie-Sometimes our need for perfection can be paralyzing, and we don't get anything done (or written).

  7. Ooh Wabi-Sabi always makes my eyes tear up. Wonder if it would work the same way when applied to my MS? Hmmm.

  8. Oh my gosh...the perfect post for me today!! (and possibly everyday!). I need to post this on my fridge. I totally love how you wrote about it, too. It makes those poop stains nearly beautiful.

    I have a friend spending a month working in Japan and he is devestated he has to come home this week. He is in love with japan. And now I'm sad I don't live there too.

    I need me some wabi sabi.

  9. Wabi sabi makes me think of that Seinfeld episode when Georgie kept saying "serenity now". LOL
    I think I'm going to adopt wabi sabi into my writing life too!

  10. I need all the wabi sabi I can get!

  11. I love it!! Wabi Sabi is going to become my new mantra. Perfect! :-)

  12. Nice! Yeah, I could use some Wabi-Sabi when I read what I've written. The perfectionist in me doesn't like to move forward sometimes, because it's just not right yet...!

  13. Shannon-I kept saying it out loud this weekend. I got some strange looks from my husband.

    VW-I totally understand the need for something to feel perfect before moving on.

  14. Wabi Sabi - LOVE THIS. I'm going to say it to my husband the next time he throws his dirty baseball coaching uniform on my nice clean bed. But rather than saying it calmly, I think I might say it with more of a HIYAH kind of effect. Can't wait to see the look on his face ;)