My last blog post talked about changing your mindset from a “writer” to an “author,” and I mentioned a little something about perfection. I want to go more into that today.
One of the biggest problems I had when I spent my time as a “writer” was that I kept waiting for my book to be perfect. I waffled between self publishing and traditional publishing for a long time. (I may talk more about that in yet another post.) But I had these two thoughts:
- If I go with a traditional publisher, they’ll provide an editor for me. I won’t have to worry about it being perfect…but if it’s terrible, then they won’t even pick it up. I should do another two or three revisions.
- If I decide to self-publish, I don’t want to be like one of those writers who throws a book together, maybe reads it once or twice, and then puts it up on Amazon for the world to see. I should do another six or eight revisions.
I was stuck in a circle of seeking perfection, and never got it ready to publish. A friend reminded me today of the aphorism “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” That search for perfection may very well have been the cause of my distraction as a writer. I would sit down to revise it and get frustrated because it wasn’t perfect and it never would be, so I would work on a new book instead, because first drafts don’t have to be perfect. Published manuscripts do. (At least, that was what I thought)
And then…Painted Blind.
I’ll be posting a book review of Michelle A. Hansen’s novel titled Painted Blind on Wednesday, but let me tell you just a little bit about it now. I met Michelle at a writer’s conference last October. I asked her which of her two books I would like best and she suggested Painted Blind. So I bought it, brought it home, then put it on my shelf and forgot about it for three months. Long story short, when I finally decided to pick it up, I couldn’t put it down. I loved it. And do you know what? I found a few errors.
I didn’t throw the book in the trash and walk away from it. I didn’t circle every error in red pen and send the novel back to the author. No way. I saw it, thought, “Oops. That was supposed to be gait, not gate” and then kept reading to find out what would happen to poor Psyche.
It wasn’t perfect. But it was published, which gave me the opportunity to read it and experience a story that I absolutely loved. If Michelle had refused to put that book out there until she “knew” it was “perfect” then I would never have read it.
Right now I have done the best I could do on the revisions of my upcoming novel the Afterdeath. It’s currently in the hands of my editor who will take what I’ve written and polish it up. When she’s done I have three beta readers lined up, and then Shabang…it’s off to the presses.
So the next time I ask myself, Perfect or Published? My answer will be simple.
Polished AND Published.
So what about you? Have you locked yourself in a never-ending cycle of perfection? Look at the wikipedia article about Perfect is the enemy of good. I saw my writing woes in so many of the “related concepts.” All I can say is, it won’t be perfect, but if I tell a good story, then the readers will enjoy it no matter what errors are present.
Have fun and enjoy the writing.