Perfectionism

(This is a picture of my grandfather with the original Rufus T. Firefly. It’s old, faded. His feet are cut off. But that doesn’t meant this picture isn’t wonderful in its flaws…)

I don’t consider myself a perfectionist. I’m detail-oriented when it matters, and I take pride in my work…but not to the point that would be considered excessive. I am compulsive editor, however. Before I start writing (and as I did when writing my WWII historical fiction novel Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me??) I edit what I wrote the night before as it primes me for writing more (especially if I’m continuing a chapter). I edited my book several times, as did my professional editor, Mark. After that, I had several editors at my publisher, and finally, a copy editor. I had one more go through the novel (366 pages in Word) and found a few errors, but overall, I was pleased.

I know that work is never going to be perfect and that there will always be faults to be found because English is such a dynamic language. We have twice as many words as any other, and our grammar is very complex; as such, I will not be caught up in the idea of perfectionism…or so I thought.

Last night, my aunt – one of my favorite people in the world – told me that the book was rife with mistakes and that my publisher should be ashamed. This caught me off guard since no one else had brought this up to me. I do appreciate honesty and constructive criticism; however, I’ve been through my book so many times that this news distressed me. Hearing from someone I trust that my finished product was distracting in its errors was unacceptable. I immediately drafted a letter to my publisher, but I didn’t want to send it when I was acutely concerned.

My husband, upon hearing this (and knowing me better than anyone), called two people who would be honest and accurate in their assessments (my mother- and sister-in-law). They both said that there were maybe five or six errors in the entire novel: not spelling errors or randomly capitalized letters, but miscellaneous articles repeated or missing. This made me feel better. My mother-in-law even made a list of the errors so that I could tell my publisher if I wanted.

No work is perfect. There are only perfect ideas, perfect intentions, perfect feelings. Thus, I resolve to be alright with having a few blemishes. I will not concern myself with a couple things that were glossed over by so many. Perfectionism is not helpful to anyone, especially you.

 

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2 thoughts on “Perfectionism

  1. There were a few errors…no more than most books published. Nothing that made me want to comment to you personally nor enough to rouse my sleeping editor giant (that never REALLY sleeps). People will always find something to criticize–constructive or otherwise. Striving for perfection is good–just as long as you recognize that, like most of life, it’s a journey & not a destination.
    And to those who ARE perfect (or consider themselves to be)…I say: BITE ME. Is that spelled right & grammatically correct enough?

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