Today, while going through one of my old books looking for a quote that I had the word “perfect” in it, I realized that I used the word in this particular book so much. In fact, I lost count how often I did. Whether it had to do with the occasion, the setting, the love interest, even what he wore, it was all “perfect.”
The discovery made me think of our goal as writers especially in light of a negative review I received on another book about the continuity, lack of editing, grammatical errors, blah blah blah. That particular review stung a bit and made me think that yes, that book did use an editor and maybe that editor, who was new, didn’t do a good job as I would have liked, just as I may not have done a good job in getting the timelines straight even in light of my Series Bible and timeline charts that I wrote down. Or maybe my English grammar skills just sucks balls… who knows?
But I digress…
As authors, we want to write that perfect book, the one that will have readers gushing over our characters and our stories, the one that will change lives, even if it’s only for that one brief moment of, wow, that author really took me away from my problems…
And sometimes we hit it right on the nose… and sometimes we miss by a mile.
But it doesn’t change the fact that most authors, myself included, start writing a story with a goal that it will be perfect on publishing day. But at the same time, if I sought perfection with my books, I would have none published…ever. Perfection is good just as it can be used as a crutch for not doing something unless it’s absolutely perfect.
I’ve been writing since I was 13. I’ve been plagued by that perfection curse for decades and for decades, I had nothing published because I was never going to be as good as this author or that author. Even when editors returned my manuscripts and told me it was ready to go, in my head, I told myself that I was never going to be good enough. Perfection made that thought possible every single day even as I saw friends take advantage of the ebook revolution that hit in 2011 onwards. You can do better than this, that voice would say, and I believed it.
Until one day, I thought, screw that, and hit the publish button.
Of course, that first book was terrible but I’d like to think I got better with each book. Sometimes I would lose my way and my focus, especially when I started realizing that it wasn’t enough to just write the words but to market and plan and promote at the same time. It got worse when I developed comparison-itis syndrome and told myself I’d never be as good as the current author I happened to be reading. There were times, like last year, I absolutely hated myself and felt cursed for my supposed gift of writing terrible stories.
But there are other days, too, like the ones when I wake up raring to write down the words, following my muse wherever he or she takes me. These are the days when I’m my happiest, when I put on the blinders and it’s just me and the words and the characters who live their crazy lives on the page and make my heart and soul sing… although I have to admit that it’s a nice bonus when those same words, perfect or not, pay the bills, too.