Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci represent two exceptionally creative minds. Masters, geniuses, prolific renaissance men, they were also famous for abandoning their work and leaving potentially more impressive masterpieces unfinished. A pair of monumental frescos commissioned for the great hall of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio are prime examples. Leonardo’s The Battle of Anghiari and Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina were started in 1504 and abandoned a year later. They never completed the frescos.
Every writer, architect, painter, and entrepreneur has experienced failure. Failing teaches us, even if the lesson is how not to create. The title Master implies we finish what we start. Finishing, calling a piece complete, might prove to be more difficult than admitting defeat. Creating masterful art is not for mortals or weaklings. Anything crafted by humans will be flawed. Some critics argue flaws accentuate beauty. Flawless execution, whatever that is, they say, leaves the viewer bored.
How do we decide were incomplete ends and masterful imperfection begins? How many drafts do you endure before a story is polished? When do we edit the unique voice and soul from our novel? There is no easy answer, and passing time compounds the difficulties. Your best work from years ago can feel worse than your first draft today.
When is your work done?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer