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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Don't wait for perfection

"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." (Margaret Atwood)

Yes. This. If I wait for my first draft to be perfect, a la Mozart, I will never publish anything. If I wait until every typo and comma splice is perfect, I'll be waiting forever. I want to get books out there, so I have to balance my need for all my books to be perfect with the ability to let go and just send them out to the world.

I was recently chastised in my no longer day job for sending an email that had one typo and one missed capital letter in it. The author who took me to task in a rather nasty manner for it said as a publisher I should communicate in a more professional manner, and that sloppiness made her worry that I did poor work. Now, to be fair to me, I was out of town, wanted to make sure she knew I had gotten her email, and slap-dashed a response from my iPhone. Did that make her wrong? No. As an author, words are my business, just as they were as a publisher. I should absolutely strive to be professional, and to put my best work out, whether it's a submission email, a manuscript, or a blog post.

However, we have to forgive ourselves if there's a typo or a mixed up there and their. (Ahhhh. One of my peeves.)

We also have to stop futzing with our work so our publishers can make a final copy. The line edit stage is not the time to add 40K. Not kidding. Don't do it.

Most of y'all probably know how I hide in November from the ubiquitous Nanowrimo. I do that monthly, maybe more if I'm on a lot of deadlines. I get tied of the endless word counts and freaking out and cheering. Ironically, though, it was Nanowrimo that taught me to write. Just write. Don't stop to edit, don't worry if things go off the rails. Fix it afterward. If you wait around for perfection, that book will never get done.

I embrace that now. Maybe a little too much if you listen to my editors. (smirk) But sometimes you have to go for it. So go for it. Love your imperfections. Then get a good beta reader who can stamp them out for you!




Katherine Halle said...

VERY WISE WORDS. And can I just say, yes you're a publisher...but you know what else? You're also human, and last I checked, humans were far from perfect. (Especially when typing on their phones)

Bookmarking this so I can reread numerous times to remind myself to just write.


Julia said...

Thanks, darlin'. It's a daily lesson