Why I Learn

For the past 36 hours, I’ve been going through the tutorials learning to use FileMaker, a database creation software.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Didn’t you finish putting all that info into a NeoOffice database?”

Yes I did. And then I moved the file from one folder to another, and the database disappeared. The form I created to populate it remained. The report I created to show all the edits in a printable list remained. It’s the actual table – you know, the thing with the information in it – that disappeared. The Pirate and I poked around for a half hour before I said “It’s no use. If NeoOffice’s databases are this fragile that you can’t even move the file without entirely breaking them, they’re of no use to me. I need something better.”

I had similar incidents that led me to learn Photoshop, Dreamweaver, how to drive a manual transmission car, how to make homemade pizza, how to build a chicken coop, FrameMaker, InDesign, how to use a tampon…I could go on and on. It seems like I have not had a single week in my adult life where I wasn’t learning a new thing to solve a new problem I’ve encountered.

My mother, when she found out I was getting her an iPad for her birthday, signed up for a class to teach her how to use it. I’m not that person. I can’t seem to get motivated to learn something until I have a specific problem I need to solve, and the way I learn things is to take the tools I’m presented and poke and prod them until I’ve figured out how to solve my problem. Granted, this leads to solutions like a rock-solid chicken coop built entirely without right angles, but I’m not after perfection. I’m after completion.

It makes me wonder what other people do when faced with an obstacle. The whole purpose of the database was so that I could put all the hundreds of edits I’d received for my novel into a single list, sort it into types of edits, and then tackle them in an orderly manner. I suppose I could have just saved a copy of my manuscript and then picked up each markup I’ve received, make the edits, and then move on. That process would take two to four times longer, but it would get the job done. And I’d have to do that longer, manual process on every novel for which I receive feedback. Now, I have a single tool that I can use to enter all my edits for any novel, and I can use it over and over again. I’ve solved my organizational problem.

I guess that’s why I learn. Because I’m not after perfection in my end results. I’m after perfection in my processes.

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