Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Enemy of the Good

There’s an old saying out there. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Basically, it means that you shouldn't vainly strive for perfection when you already have something good.

I think this is very important for writers, and especially for me.

I’m a perfectionist. I don’t like to half-ass anything. If I’m passionate about something, I dive headlong into it and immerse myself in it. The thought of churning out something less than perfect is anathema, even though I know perfection is unattainable. So I revise, work on something else, revise again, start something else, revise two things, etc. Do you see the vicious circle at work?

The perfect has become the enemy of the good for me. I want to put out a book that will not only leave my readers’ mouths agape, but also satisfy my own desire to produce the best work I can. The thing is, we all have to let go at some point. After you revise a few times, you get to the point where you've made something as good as you can make it. Maybe you bring in an outside editor when that happens. Maybe you send it to your publisher and let them take their knives to it. The key is to do something with it.

I need to get better at that, and I know it.

Other things at which I need to get better: updating this blog more regularly, and allowing myself to end introductory phrases with prepositions.

Happy writing. Happy good writing.