The Dizzying Whirl Of The Perfection-Go-Round

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-02-05 07:00:00-05:00 No comments

A friend of mine and I got to talking the other night about how that last long stretch of finishing up a book is often taken up with nattering about the kinds of details that you feel like can only be seen by two people: you, and the one person out there who can see right through your story and out the other side because you didn't pay attention to that one exact detail.

Now here's the fun part: I can't think of a single time when worrying about such a thing actually made or broke a story. It's almost always the kinds of things that a reader is more than willing to kiss up to god if they are already invested in your work. If they're not, nothing's gonna stop 'em from lowering it into a meat grinder an inch at a time.

I'm not in the business of satisfying people whose mode for engaging with a story they've come to dislike for whatever reason is to nitpick it. I'm in the business of making myself satisfied, and satisfying all those who are happy to have their ticket for my story punched. But I still get on that perfection-go-round at least once per work. Sometimes twice or more, but at least once.

I know why, too. It's mostly to shut up my internal perfectionist, not because the work in question actually has Major Flaws that need patching. If that's what it takes to scratch the itch, fine. I can usually survive one such go-round on the go-round, although I have to fight to keep from letting it turn into more than that. It means that much less attention still hung up on a project that should be completed and pushed out of the way, the better to make room for what's next.

Creators and audiences alike have a perverse relationship with perfection. I think that arises out of the equally perverse idea that creative things only make sense when they are ranked in hierarchies. I could make long lists of all the things "wrong" with the things I love, and I would love them none the less for them. And if someone loves something I have done, I know full well it may not be because I did the right thing with it; it may just be because it flatters some sensibility of theirs, or what have you. That said, I would rather err on the side of forgiveness, of loving something not merely despite its flaws but maybe also because of them, as long as there is love for it in the first place.

And none of this is meant to allow me to absolve myself of my actual responsibilities with any given work. Yes, I do have an obligation to make it as good as it can be. But not at the expense of finishing it, learning what I can, and rolling that into the next thing to be made as good as it can be, too.

Tags: creativity creators editing