"Oh!" said she to the servants, "my mother is coming, and she will killme.""She shall not kill you at all; we will lock you in a room where shecannot get near you."This is how it was done; and when Silver-Tree came ashore, she began tocry out, "Come to meet your own mother, when she comes to see you."Gold-Tree said that she could not, that she was locked in the room, andthat she could not get out of it.
Somewhere along the way I set aside my hopes of writing that flawless essay. But perhaps I missed something important in my mother’s lessons about creativity and perfection. Perhaps the point of writing the flawless essay was not to give up, but to never willingly finish. Whitman repeatedly reworked “Song of Myself” between 1855 and 1891. Repeatedly. We do our absolute best with a piece of writing, and come as close as we can to the ideal. And, for the time being, we settle. In critique, however, we are forced to depart, to give up the perfection we thought we had achieved for the chance of being even a little bit better. This is the lesson I took from my mother: If perfection were possible, it wouldn’t be motivating.
My mother, who is just shy of five feet tall, is normally incredibly soft-spoken, but on the rare occasion when she got angry, she was terrifying. I’m not sure if she was more upset by my hubris or by the fact that my English teacher had let my ego get so out of hand. In any event, my mother and her red pen showed me how deeply flawed a flawless essay could be. At the time, I’m sure she thought she was teaching me about mechanics, transitions, structure, style and voice. But what I learned, and what stuck with me through my time teaching writing at Harvard, was a deeper lesson about the nature of creative criticism.
When good students turn in an essay, they dream of their instructor returning it to them in exactly the same condition, save for a single word added in the margin of the final page: “Flawless.” This dream came true for me one afternoon in the ninth grade. Of course, I’d heard that genius could show itself at an early age, so I was only slightly taken aback that I had achieved perfection at the tender age of 14. Obviously, I did what any professional writer would do; I hurried off to spread the good news. I didn’t get very far. The first person I told was my mother.
12 Mar 2014 My mother is very good and kind-hearted. My mother has taught me good manners and discipline. She is always ready to help others. Short Biography of Mother Teresa · Short Essay on Mother Teresa (Anjeze Gonxhe
The time, at fourteen, when I finally said stop. Your hand in the air, my face stinging from the first blow. Stop, Ma. Quit it. Please. I looked at you hard, the way I had learned, by then, to look into the eyes of my bullies. You turned away and, without a word, put on your wool coat and walked to the store. I’m getting eggs, you said over your shoulder, as if nothing had happened. But we both knew it was over. You’d never hit me again.
The king was on the point of arriving, and his mother said to the doll,"Come her; put on one of my best dresses." In short, she arrayed her likea queen.