Perfection(ism)

This week’s post will be brief as I’m racing to perfect my opening fifteen pages for submission to the NJ SCBWI 2013 Summer Conference one-on-one critiques.  Deadline for registration to the conference (and submission) is Tuesday, April 30th, so if you’re interested, hop on over and register.  I can’t say enough good things about my experience last year, and I’m eager to see what this year’s conference brings.

Last week’s post reminded us of Mary Kole’s advice that perfect isn’t always necessary when it comes to query letters.  Too often, I forget the maxims that perfect is the enemy of the good, and that if something is good enough for government work, it’s good enough.  That’s not to say I don’t want to do my best, to try harder, to write as well as I can.

But as my techie engineer husband often reminds me, perfectionism is a curse, not a blessing.  When baking cakes, taste, not appearance is what matters.  A lopsided, cracked cake can taste as good or better than the miracle of frosting in the magazine picture.  What good is it if I write the perfect story, but I’ve missed the contest deadline?  Or spent so much time editing and revising, I never finish my novel?  Having finished a complete draft, I know I can avoid that fate.  And my inner critic has often enabled me to push myself to continue brainstorming, to continue creating, to slash and burn my darlings knowing I can do better for my story.

Time to say good enough.  Unlike baking cakes, writing has no smell that signals me it’s done.  (Regardless of what the timer says.  Trust your nose.)  But it does have a sound, an ineffable feel that tells me when to let go, to submit, to focus on the next chapter, section, or even project.  Earlier this week, I rewrote my opening chapters in a flush of excitement.  They needed more action, and I had had the inspiration for how to resolve that.  Good writing buddy Stacey kindly read the new chapters and then told me she liked my original version better.  She had just wanted me to tweak it, not kill it.

Sigh.  With six days to d-day, I don’t have much time.  But that little ineffable feeling is telling me she’s right.  Time to trust my nose , give those fifteen pages one more once-over, and submit!  (And then get outside and enjoy some spring sunshine.)

 

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6 thoughts on “Perfection(ism)

  1. Funny, Lauri 🙂

    And I SO agree—perfectionism IS a curse, especially since there’s no such thing as “perfect” for we mere mortals. There’s a difference between perfection and striving for excellence 🙂 What I’m not sure I have is that ineffable feel 😉

    Good luck at the conference, ladies 🙂

      1. Thanks, but I’m not going, Leslie. Can’t afford it 😦 My major volunteer work is what enabled me to go and I opted out this year so I could gain my life back (which I’m STILL trying to do lol)

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