On Perfectionism

This week I've been thinking about efficiency, productivity, and straight lines.

When I was a teen, I was a perfectionist. I was a Straight A, National Honor Society, anorexic girl who had all sorts of rules in her head about how to succeed, and on one level it worked, although it could have killed me.

Thinking back on it now, it's no surprise that it took me so long to write novels, although it is a dream that I've had since childhood. I believe writing novels requires bags of grit. You have to listen to all parts of yourself. You have to often not know. You have to be willing to be humbled, again and again.

Right now, I'm in the beta reader process of my book, and I have heard some suggestions. I have to say, first off, that I am really fortunate to have my beta readers in my life. They are thoughtful and smart. They get me. So I've begun this process, not fully completed, where I'm hearing feedback on my latest draft. And here is my process: “I can't believe I didn't see that! But I read those craft books! How could I have made that mistake?” The perfectionist wails.

But I've come to this answer: I'm not a machine. I will do my analytical best to figure out what to write, but at some points, I may trick myself for the greater good. I may get a little lost to go deeper, to say a truth that may take me several rounds to realize and fully tell.

Maybe some people would have this experience, and the takeaway would be, “Get thee to a feedback group and have continual thoughts on your work as you move through your draft,” and, for some people, that is the answer. That would stop me in my tracks.

So, here I am, a work in progress in more ways than one, taking one step at a time each day, listening, adjusting, and trusting my work. I hope this is helpful in some way. I wish you the best in your creative endeavors.