Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Doing Your Best With What You Have (an IWSG post)

I hate my camera...

I've been taking pictures of some old miniatures I pulled out of storage recently. Well, I didn't exactly mean to go digging around for miniatures, but, a couple of weeks ago when I was pulling bikes out of the garage, I noticed that the clasps on my miniature case had, um, exploded. From the heat. Not that it gets all that hot in the garage, but the case was on top of a stack of boxes that stopped just under a window, so it had been in  the sun all summer. The case is old (like 20 years old) and plastic, so I suppose the daily exposure to the sun caused the clasps to shatter. I brought it in to make sure the miniatures were okay (they were) and decided I should get some pictures up on Facebook with my other miniature pictures. [I think this link should allow anyone that wants to see what I've posted so far to see. I think.]

[But here's a teaser:

All of that to say, "I hate my camera." It's old, and it's wearing out. It often refuses to focus. I can hear the mechanism inside trying, but it just won't do it. Then, of course, there was the whole episode while at Disneyland when the camera refused to even turn on.

But it's what I have at the moment, so I do the best I can with it. Yeah, I could go buy a new one, but I don't want to just go out and buy another cheap camera that wouldn't really be any better than this one, so I'm working with the one I have until we can actually get something better.

And that's how life is a lot of the time. You do what you can with what you have rather than just do nothing. Not that some people don't choose to just do nothing, but how much sense does that really make? When you wait for everything to be "perfect," you don't ever do anything.

I mean, for most of us, owning a car is always like this. You drive the piece of crap you have, right? Do you ever really go outside to go to work and look at your car and think, "I can't go to work in this. I'll wait till I have a better car, a new car, before I go to work." If you don't go to work, that new car will never happen, so you make do with the car that ought to be wearing a diaper and needs chemo for the cancer it has because it won't quit smoking.

All of this goes for writing and everything related to writing. You do what you can with what you have at the moment and keep trying to make it better. Better by degrees. And you learn from it.

When I finished The House on the Corner, I didn't have any money to pay for anything like, oh, a cover or marketing or anything. Which is still true, but, you know, doing the best I can. Anyway, I'd finished it and, after some research, knew I wasn't interested in pursuing traditional publishing, so it was time to do the best I could, which was this:
It's  not what I wanted, but it's what I had, so I went with it rather than not drive to work, as it were. The thing is, if I hadn't gone with that, I would never have gotten to this:
Better by degrees.

It can be hard to look at what other people have and look at what you have and decide to keep going. It would be so much easier to just give up. Let the piece of crap in the driveway continue to sit in the driveway and hide in your house because you're too ashamed to be seen driving around in that book with no cover.

And I have to mention it: editing.

Editing is a big deal. A poorly edited book can be a huge issue for a lot of people. BUT! As hard as I seem to be on the whole editing thing sometimes, I'm not as bad as I sound. As I said back in this post, my real issue is with people who have the "I'm not gonna leave the house" attitude about editing. "I could do better, but I'm going to choose not to because it's too much trouble." That bothers me. If you have a good story, it's well written, and you've utilized all of you editing avenues, you should not stick your book in a drawer because it doesn't look good. Drive that "piece of crap" (being metaphorical here -- I don't mean it's a piece of crap necessarily) to work, just like I drove my coverless book, and keep making it better by degrees. As you learn new things or have more resources, make it better. Make it the best that it can be at any given moment.

That's all anyone can do -- the best you can with what you have at any given moment. And don't be intimidated by the fact that some people have better than you. Some people just start out with more. No, it's not fair, but that's how life is. It shouldn't stop you from doing the best that you can right now.

end of line...

But don't forget to come back tomorrow for the FREE! release of part 6 of Shadow Spinner:


  1. Great attitude, Andrew! (Everyone seems to have the do or die attitude today, which is awesome.)
    Waiting for perfection - it will never happen.
    And your description of the car that needs chemo was awesome.
    So are Rusty's covers!

  2. Great advice. And much needed by me. Thanks!

  3. That's some good detail on Spidey there. Cameras are getting cheaper all the time. I think I spent $200 on mine and now you can get one the same resolution and everything for half that. I kept my 5MP camera for years because it worked fine. Finally I jumped up to a 12MP and it was like holy cow! The resolution is so much better. That's really why you need a new one. Get some more megapixels and stuff.

  4. I mostly agree with you about doing the best you can with what you've got, but I also think there's an argument for taking the time to really make sure things are as good as they can be, and not just rush to get something out.

  5. I can just stay home because I don't like my car? I never thought of doing that. SO LONG JOB.

    I happened on this post today rather than yesterday and found it both good advice plus also false advertising as WHERE IS MY INSTALLMENT OF EPISODE 6?

  6. The camera in my iPhone right now is one of the best I have ever owned. The resolution is spectacular.

  7. That's so true, Andrew! I struggle with this sometimes, which is why I'm joining NaNoWriMo this year to get rid of my "the first draft must be perfect" attitude. :)

  8. Alex: One of these days I'll get around to the story of the car that blew up. With me in it.

    Rusty: Sure!

    PT: Spidey's actually a bit banged up, and, since he's already been sealed, I can't do much about it.There's a big flake of paint missing over his eye there, but the flash washed it out. There's also a Sabertooth in the gallery.
    I do have another camera that was given to us just before we moved, but all the stuff for it got packed, and I haven't found any of it, yet.

    L.G.: I think people should always take their time and do their -best-. Rushing never brings out the best.

    Briane: Exactly!
    Come back tomorrow. Thankfully, you don't need a car for that.

    Michael: Maybe one day I'll get a mobile device of some sort.

    Lauren: Good luck with NaNo!

  9. Making the best out of what you have is a great point. If it's all you can do, then doing nothing certainly isn't going to change that.

  10. Awesome post, Andrew (and loving the Spider-Man mini). Now that my car is falling about, I know exactly what you mean, and I'm proud to drive that thing to work every day. I love working with what I have. Big fan of McGyvering. :)

  11. I don't know what kind of camera you're looking for, but the only reason we were able to get the one I use now is because they have phenomenal deals on cameras in December. We actually got ours from Sams, and got an extra lens and an insulated bag in addition.

    And great attitude, and important to remember!

  12. I so agree. Editing is vital, and making the final product something you're proud of is important, but it doesn't pay to keep something in the dark just because it's not perfect. Sometimes you have to do with what you're got and be proud.

  13. TGE: No, it's not. I think people forget that.

    David: So we should all send you duct tape for your birthday!

    Shannon: Oh, I wouldn't even know what I was looking for. Something simple, because I probably wouldn't take the time to learn how to use something complicated. heh

    S.L.: Yep yep. It's how we learn.