Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Striving for Perfection

I have been working on a book for eight months now. I finished writing the book at the end of the first month and have spent the rest of the time revising. It sat for a little over a month simmering while I worked on other projects. Then I polished the first chapter so I could enter it in the LDStorymakers first chapter contest. Since April I revise and rewrite on this book whenever I sit at the computer.

My husband read the first draft and encouraged me to keep going with the project. Since then he asks to read it again to see where it is now, but I keep putting him off. You see, it isn't perfect yet. And there lies the problem. Half of my brain knows that it never will be perfect. There will always be something I wish I could change. The other half of my brain keeps telling me I should keep plugging away at it until it is perfect.

In King Lear, William Shakespeare wrote, "Striving to better, oft we mar what's well." An important part of the writing process is knowing when to stop. I have a friend who writes and writes very well, but she doesn't submit very much because there is always something she feels the need to fix. Her stories go through so many changes, that often the final version bears no resemblance to the original. And still the revising continues.

So I've decided to lighten up on myself a little. My writing is continually improving but it will probably never be perfect in this life. I am going to start handing out the draft to readers before I "mar what's well." It may be better than I give myself credit for, but I will never know unless I let it leave my hands for a little while.


Annette Lyon said...

Well put. I think constantly improving is what we should set our target as, not perfection here and now. I always try to make my latest book is better than the one before. (Whether I succeed is another story, but I certainly try to push myself.)

Aneeka said...

Ah, I'm fighting this feeling right now as well. It's so hard to let people read something that you know could be better.

However, I've learned that, though the book isn't perfect, their comments can help it become better :) And they can point out things that, for you who had always known was wrong but couldn't quite pinpoint the problem, can have a "Ah ha!" moment and finally understand what the issue was.

I also wonder if published authors look at their books and think that it could have been better. Wouldn't that be depressing though?

Stephanie said...

I guess it is good to have room for improvement. Where would we go next if everything we did was already perfect?

Shanna Blythe said...

You're absolutely right. We often try to perfect something out of existence. This is something we all need to hear again and again!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Part of making it better is letting other people read it, though -- I hope you'll let him see it at some point!! :)

ali said...

I wrote a big long response Stephanie but it's gone! Argh!

The gist of it though was that I liked what you said and I wholeheartedly agree!

I look forward to reading that book of yours, AFTER your hubby of course!

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