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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Perfectionism & the Royal Suspension Chain Pier in Brighton

As an aspiring author, I think my biggest weakness is perfectionism. I tend to think that whatever I create should be perfect, that it should appeal to everyone, and that it should be so good that it will last forever. My seeming inability to adopt a more realistic approach has meant that I've finished and submitted few stories and novels.  

As a result, after years of writing, I have nothing to show for my efforts.

At the Brighton Museum, I learned that the city's first pier was called the Royal Suspension Chain Pier.  It was built in 1823, with the intention of helping cross-channel passengers board their ships.

It soon became a place for the fashionable to congregate, to see and be seen.  Or, as the British would say, to promenade.  Landscape painters such as Joseph Turner (an inspiration for Holmfirth-based Ashley Jackson) and John Constable immortalized it in their work.

While I'm sure the builders constructed it as best they could, the Royal Suspension Chain Pier failed the test of time.  By 1896, the pier had already been closed, and was scheduled to be dismantled when a storm struck Brighton.

The remains of the limestone blocks into which the oak piles were rooted can apparently be seen at extremely low tides.  Sadly, that's all that remains of what was a highly useful and impressive structure.  Still, the unexpected appeal of the Royal Suspension Chain Pier led to the construction of the West Pier, which became a popular venue for concerts, shows, and all sorts of entertainment.  It helped make Brighton a better port city, heightened its utility and appeal, and helped it grow.  Even if it wasn't perfect, even if it didn't last forever, it benefitted people in many ways, and was immortalized by two painters who would eventually number among England's greatest artists.

No matter how hard I work, it's likely I can never make my fiction perfect.  It's equally likely that any stories I manage to publish may go out of print.  But if they can entertain readers for a time, and inspire future authors, then that should be enough for me.  Now, to keep that thought before me each day as I sit down to write, and finish, and sell.

Dragon Dave

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