The elusive quest for perfection

I’m back to editing my novel.

I’ve enlisted the help of a professional editor which has been very helpful so far. They’ve gone through the first chapter and blurb, pointing out any mistakes that had slipped under the radar, such as repeated words or redundancies and occasional grammatical glitches, as well as highlighting parts that might need clarification or re-working. It’s all good. It’s helping polish it up and make it as good as it can be. Every author, self-published or otherwise, needs to spend an enormous amount of time in the polishing stages, and not everyone does. I’ve seen some self-published works that make me wonder if they actually took less time to write than they did to read.

Great quote from Michael Crichton, a guy who knows his stuff:

“Books aren’t written — they’re rewritten. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh draft hasn’t quite done it.”

Indeed! The thing that gets me down is my own perfectionist streak, which often crosses the line into a form of self-flagellation. I’m rarely happy with anything I do, because no matter how much I work on it, I still think it could be better. I wish I could make every sentence perfect, but then what is ‘perfect’? Is there even such a thing as a perfect sentence? As long as a sentence flows, makes grammatical and logical sense and has that certain sense of natural rhythm to it (I find reading aloud helps me determine whether or not a sentence has a pleasing kind of rhythm or sound to it), they just keep reading to the next sentence. They don’t stop to scrutinise and dissect every single sentence. At least I don’t think they do. Except for editors, of course, because that’s what they’re paid to do.

I’ve made the changes the ed suggested, but I’ve also convinced myself that I ought to put the project on hold. Perhaps the dialogue needs tuning. Maybe I need to embellish my descriptive prose and be more imaginative and visual in my descriptions. Is the pacing tight enough, or do I need to relax the pace and concentrate on making it more immersive…?

So many questions. I could spend from now until the end of my life going over it again and again and still not be satisfied. I think I need to be a little more dispassionate in my approach. Part of being an artist and writer is knowing when to let go. I’ll fix the oversights and errors and spruce up any parts I think need a little more work. And then, if it works and if I feel it’s appropriately readable, I’ll decide if it’s time to let it go and send it out there.

One of my favourite Renaissance men, Leonardo da Vinci, made an excellent point:

Art is never finished. It is abandoned.


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