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Monday, January 09, 2017

Perfectionism


I would never have described myself as such. Ever. But late in life I'm up against this defect of mine. And it is a defect. Perfectionist. It's a prison.

per·fec·tion·ism


/pərˈfekSHəˌnizəm/

noun

noun: perfectionism

refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.

It is paralyzing when it comes to my writing, to my completion of major projects. For example, I've written 3 novels. Understand that apart from an inquiry letter to publishers/agents here and there I've never pursued with any kind of energy or dedication actual publication of any of them as there is still so much to fix/rewrite/edit, you name it. Incomplete. Imperfect.

The recent anthology was agony. I will never look at it again, even though I've worked it and worked it. Because I will still see flaws and construction/grammatical problems et al infinitum. And this is depressing. Utterly.

My short stories, articles are never the issue as I can rework/edit these to my heart's content. Which I do. And then fire off. It's the larger works that are my personal sticky wicket.

The thing is, I let Novel #2 go for about 4 years. It had been work-shopped to much acclaim, a concept not written about before to everyone's knowledge. I hadn't read it since. But I needed the work I had done on it for a creative non-fiction short piece I'm writing.

So I took all day yesterday and read it as a stranger might and I was overwhelmed with how good and moving (I cried, lots) it was and today I'm going to work on expanding some chapters and then having Daughter and Grandgirl read it and take or not take their valued considerations and then fire it off, maybe a 100 times like a machine gun to different publishers without looking at it again.

And then get on the backs of the other 2 and do the same.

Time is running out.

On all of us.

22 comments:

  1. http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/

    come join this welcoming group of hopeful writers and check out the query shark posts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi lovey, yes - the be perfect driver is terrible. But there are things you can do. When that drive is upon you - when you feel it the strongest - tell yourself "My best is good." The drivers (Be Perfect, Be Strong, Try Hard, Hurry Up, and Be Pleasing) are taken on when we are young - they are ways our imperfect struggling parents or caretakers tell us to take on so as to be allowed to exist. You can tell yourself as often as you think of it that you don't need to be perfect to be here on earth. Your basic goodness isn't in question. The main issue with the Be Perfect driver is that we usually don't finish things. If they aren't finished they can't be judged as imperfect. So see what you can finish to get practice - anything - like a blog post! Love you gal. You can do this!

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  3. Good luck with this project---it is worthwhile and one I've not attempted as writing fiction holds no allure for me.

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  4. :)
    TAKE CARE
    ME A PERFECTIONIST IN OTHER AREAS
    LIKE
    GARDEN, HOUSE, DRESS AND MY PAST BUILDING OF HOMES AND DECORATING...
    NOW
    THANK GOODNESS
    NO MORE.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So much easier when working with an editor and a deadline, which is what you'll get if your work is accepted at some publishing house. Optiosn:

    Is there a NFLD publisher? Best chance there.
    Could the work be serialized in the SJ paper? Editor, deadline and feedback from readers, plus then you do the book, and your readers now in the tens of thousands, will buy). You get publicity in the proud paper: "One of our writers...".

    Waaa. You know this!?

    Stay away from writers groups.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I never put anything out there that I consider finished. This is the advantage of being a person raised with low expectations: nobody hovering over me checking out my work. There is always something I could improve, but that has risks. A thing can be too worked over, too finished, to the point where there is nothing left to do and no reason for an audience to be bothered with it. The Asians know that and cultivate asymmetry, incompleteness, etc.
    So whatever the production is I just let it go when I am tired of working on it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am an unashamed perfectionist but have to compromise now that I live with two totally haphazard characters. Sometimes, it can be very frustrating, but as you say, time is running out and I don't need avoidable unpleasantness in my life.

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  8. Shouldn't you take all to a publisher or at least an outsider Wise? Isn't it the editors job to correct the little unimportant words? I have some thousands of pages of memoir written and sitting behind me here on my grandmother's old card table not having looked at for months. However, when I started on them a friend [ex lawyer wanna be artist in our group] asked if he could read them as I wrote them. Of course as long as you don't tell all! Thinks they are the stuff of a book [Moll Flanders he says]. His suggestions and comments were a great help. I hope I will get back to them one of these days or years but right now I have found myself an 81 year old manfriend and being smitten is more fun at 82 than it was at 22, 42 & 62. We bought each other - via a matchmaker! You must find a way to live for the final act which is, for me, undoubtedly the best act/chapter.

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    Replies
    1. Errrm....what?! A matchmaker, an octogenarian tryst? Do tell. We'll be right over.

      Delete
  9. I should have read the comments before making mine!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Definitely needs to be in print!
    A surprising number of people self publish these days before they get a publisher.
    Go for it!
    I'm a perfectionist in some things and can be really hard on myself.
    Good luck with it.
    Maggie x

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  11. It must be hard not to keep glimpsing bits of a manuscript and thinking you just need to tweak this or that sentence. But if a few trusted people like it, then it's okay, just take a deep breath and send it off!

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  12. I'm not sure why, but I am generally free of perfectionism. I prefer "good enough."

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  13. I'm cheering you on! Tell your daughter and grandgirl to keep poking you.

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  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Oh, how I suffer from the same disease. Every blog post is poured over, analysed, checked and checked again, altered, alterations undone, paragraphs re-formed, sentences shortened. Finally, just after the "publish" button is pressed I see a glaring omission too late to rectify.
    But then, a week or so later, I read it over again and for the life of me can find no evidence of said omission.
    Until the next blog post, of course...

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  16. Been negligent in my blog answers and posts, my apologies. Heading to Seattle next week for another bit of letting the cardio guys have their way with me, will let you know how or if it turns out.
    Cheers, my friend. I've liked your writing for some time, as you know. Another time, another place.

    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  17. BOYCOTT AMERICAN WOMEN!

    www.BoycottBitches.com

    I am an American man, and I have decided to boycott American women. In a nutshell, American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don't know how to cook or clean, don't want to have children, etc. Therefore, what intelligent man would want to get involved with American women?

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    This blog is my attempt to explain why I feel American women are inferior to foreign women (non-American women), and why American men should boycott American women, and date/marry only foreign (non-American) women.

    ReplyDelete
  18. American women are devastated at the prospect of being deprived of your company, troll. Go back under your bridge now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish there was a "like" button for your response!

      Delete
  19. I understand the way perfectionism can stall your writing. Good luck as you prepare your manuscript for submission. The publishing world has changed so much since I last had a novel published by going the agent/publisher route. If I ever finish the novel I'm working on now, I'll be beginning anew with learning the submission process. I'll be interested in your progress and hoping for an auction with a bidding war for you!

    ReplyDelete

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