That’s a quote from G.K. Chesterton from What’s Wrong With the World. I can’t remember when I first heard it, but I often think of it when I want to give myself permission to write a really bad first draft.
It applies to a lot of things in life:
- Comforting a friend even though you don’t know what to say or what to do.
- Trying something new, whether it’s art or dancing or gardening (probably not mountain-climbing).
- Speaking another language – at least that’s been my experience so far.
David Mills offers the quote as one that shows Chesterton’s “rhetoric, genius, and holiness.” I particularly like his comment here:
One learns facts and techniques and methods and insights from many writers, and from some one learns a great deal. But few writers, I think, have Chesterton’s transformative effect, at least upon readers like me. Why he leaves some very intelligent people cold is a mystery, like why some people don’t like, say, bitter ale.