So I was researching the New York State Regents exams this week to find out whether my protagonist, forced from his home state, could take them from afar. The answer is, no: even when strange and magical happenings force you away forever, you have to return to New York if you want to take the exams and get a regents diploma. Now we know! (Also, the New York State Board of Regents is awesome for answering my novel research question without blinking and in less than two hours.
While doing this, I got to thinking about my own regents exams, taken as a high school student in New York, and specifically about how on the second of my three math exams (geometry), I made a basic division error that knocked two points off my score and kept me from managing a perfect 100 across all three math tests. I even remember the details of the error, because seriously, I know 90 divided by 5 is not 12. (Not in base 10 and, actually, not in any other base the number 90 exists in either.)
Anyway, today I realized something. I’ve been telling the story of that basic minor math error, of trying and–just–failing to be perfect, for years. When if I’d managed the perfect score I wanted instead, I’d have stopped talking about it years ago.
In other words: Reaching for something and falling short is more interesting than simply being perfect. It’s a way better story.
Since it’s far too easy to get tied up in knots over being perfect, even now, even while knowing perfect is just not even possible, this seems worth remembering.