Being Perfect Isn’t a Thing…

Newsletter 58 – March 8, 2024


No one is perfect. We all have our flaws. I certainly have my share, and I’ve been struggling with some of them lately. I have lots of ideas for novels I would like to write, but I find I spend a lot of time planning and plotting and reworking those ideas for months before I even start writing. And then, once I do begin, I agonize over whether certain sections (or certain characters, or certain themes) are doing their jobs. My problem is that I want the final story to be “perfect,” even though I know that it won’t be. No work of art is ever perfect, and striving for absolute perfection can be deadly for a writer. It’s possible to work so hard at getting our stories “right” that we don’t finish them. Unfinished stories are unpublished stories. Unpublished stories are stories that the public never sees, so they are a waste of time and money and effort.

Most writers I know are a bit obsessive about removing errors from their writing before publishing it. That’s the very least we can do for our readers. Obvious spelling and punctuation mistakes and poorly worded phrases can pull our readers away from the plot and into the role of grammar police. We want to keep them reading, so we try to avoid glaring errors if we can. But if we obsess over every single word in our novels, looking for a better way to phrase each sentence, it’s possible that readers will never see them.

That’s where I am now, in the middle of trying to finish my novella, Flood  and  Fire (including polishing and editing and prepping it for publication), so I can then finish re-editing and preparing Jagged Man for its publication (hopefully later this year — yes, I know I said that last year too). Until Jagged Man is nearly done I can’t release Flood  and  Fire into the world. I’m having difficulty, though, moving from scene to scene (especially the scenes that take place during the Great Fire of London), and I suspect it’s the ugly head of perfectionism that keeps popping up and stopping me. I want the novella to be at least as good as Jagged Man, which (I believe) is a very good thriller/love story, but some mornings I just don’t seem to be able to get my 17th century characters to behave (which is obviously more my fault than theirs). This month I’m going to push them a little harder (to be less perfect?) and see if they’ll stop blocking my progress.

The next newsletter will be about perfection’s constant companion, procrastination.

See you then,


[“Perfection’s just an obstacle illusion,”
a quote from my good friend,
Holly Jahangiri, 2024.]

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