writing

Perfectionism vs. Practicality

I’m beginninig to wonder if I will EVER find the perfect balance of perfectionism and practicality. Although, to be fair, I’d probably settle for a practical balance of the two if I weren’t caught up in being such a perfectionist.

It’s really hard to know when the right time to show off your manuscript. As I do the requested revisions to my first three chapters, I can’t help but feel that I should just scrap everything and write them completely new. I feel compelled to change everything about every passage and make sure I leave no rock left unturned. There’s a desire to say, “See, I took your advice very seriously and I’m not afraid to kill my darlings, and I just cut up everything for you!” But obviously there’s some good existing stuff in the writing that made people want to see revisions to it in the first place. They did tell me to work on it and come back, not just get it off their desk and out of their sight.

It’s hard even knowing how to tweak it enough that I feel good showing it to others to get their feedback on it first. Zaq is a fantastic developmental editor. He always knows what’s cheesy and over the top, and he can always detect what I’m not stressing enough. He’s read through The Neverland Wars and given me ideas in a word or two that I instantly saw how I could turn into full-fledged plot-thickening chapters. His ideas are the cornstarch of my writing. No mater how good a cook you are, sometimes the stew just needs thickening. It’s really neat to have someone who I can spitball with. Most of my writer friends get too interested in the story and almost want to write it myself (I do the same thing when they come to me with story problems, to be fair, it’s the nature of the craft…) and all my non-writer friends are usually straight-up, flat-out no good at coming up with story ideas. Zaq is a unique case because he’s got that left-brain/right-brain analytical computer guy and creative poet thing going for him.

He got back to me with his feedback yesterday, and I spent all my free-time/work-time (every minute I wasn’t at my best friend’s half-birthday party, basically) working on integrating solutions to the problems he identified. I had to kill a lot of darlings and cut back scenes I liked, but cest la éscrit. I am, after all, trying to get it perfect…or perfect enough, anyways. I feel like I could spend the rest of my life trying to get this manuscript in absolute tip-top shape, so I always have to force myself to just fling myself back into the arena, head into unknown and just trust that with the time I’ve had and the talent I’ve developed, I’ve managed to do something worthwhile. It’s hard to trust yourself like that, especially when you err on the side of being a perfectionist, but it’s the only reason I’ve gotten as far as I have with every other aspect of my writing. I guess it is just the nature of the game. You have to do things before you’re ready, or you’ll never have the experience you need to be ready for them next time.

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