Striving for perfection

It hurts. That’s the best way I can describe it. The emotional and mental anguish of knowing my work isn’t perfect…every second I think about it, I want to punch clowns and kick nuns. The saving grace is simple: No one’s work is perfect. Everyone I know how spotted a flaw in someone else’s work. A typo, a plot point, a sharp edge in an otherwise smooth image…they exist, they mock, they beg for our attention and our suffering.

A good friend of mine was fond of pointing out errors in Terry Prachet books — that’s all fine and good until you find out the man is still cranking out works while suffering from Alzheimer’s disease (something close and personal as my mother is suffering from the very same poison.) My wife was reading a NY Times best seller (no not one of my books — at least not yet) and started pointing out typos.

But no matter how many writers I know that suffer from the same plague — it still hurts. There is no comfort or joy in knowing all of the immensely hard work you have put into a novel has paid off in typos, formatting, or grammatical errors. The only saving grace is that your story is strong enough to withstand the nearly-insufferable weight of error.

When I was an actor it was the same game — I pushed myself beyond my normal limits to find something fresh, a different take on an old classic, make my body or voice do something it couldn’t previously do. The big difference between acting and writing is that, in live theatre the audience relished in mistakes. An audience seeing an actor make a mistake felt like they received a special gift — something none of the other audiences would ever see. Writing? Not so much. Readers want perfection — even at $0.99 cents.

But I still strive for the same from my words. I want to push them, bend them, twist them, make them obey my will. And until I manage to get to that magical realm where I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when the file is submitted for publication it is as near perfection as the human condition allows.

Until then I will keep sweating, suffering, and nearly weeping for my words.