I’ve spent some time today whittling a mushroom. It doesn’t look like a mushroom yet, but tomorrow, it will.

Whittling is the one thing that can make me feel calm, no matter how I feel beforehand.

Today, for instance, I was frustrated because pain levels are high these days, and that means that insomnia steals away a lot of my energy.

I could have sat in bed and grumped about it, but I did something else: I dragged myself to my studio, grabbed one of my favourite knives, sharpened it, and then took some wood from my stash and started to carve, sharp, deep slices, and smaller surface cuts.

Each cut made me feel calmer, more centred, more in control.

When I couldn’t carve anymore, I looked at the dome of my mushroom taking shape and smiled.

This is what any form of creativity should feel like, to me. Even if the only result of being creative in my life is to make me smile, I’ve succeeded.

So what has whittling to do with writing?

It’s taught me something that has hindered me the most in my writing: embracing imperfection.

I’ve murdered stories by focusing too much on shaping it to perfection. I have an archive filled with half finished stories I just couldn’t make right.

And now I’m gleefully writing a completely imperfect story, I feel the lesson of whittling in my bones.

The carving that is my story needs a lot of play, a lot of new curves and wild imagination.

It’s not perfect. It may never be. But it’s creativity. It brings me so much joy.

It makes me smile.