Time to stop dressing the baby

March 27, 2008

I don’t know if any of you are guilty of this or not, but when I start tinkering with something, it’s hard to stop. Even when I dress my four-year-old daughter, I’m always adding a little headband or maybe a ribbon or adding a sweater. And yesterday, before sending galley proofs back to my publisher, I had to call Chessie, my critique partner, and quiz her about a single word. Do I scratch it out? Do I leave it in?

Because after galleys, there’s nothing else to do. These are basically the page proofs of a novel, all laid out and pretty, looking like a book. If it doesn’t change now, well, that’s what will be sitting on a shelf at Barnes & Noble. I thought about that way too much yesterday, to point where I almost drove right past the UPS store last night and kept my galleys for one more day. After all, they’re not due until tomorrow. I could have overnighted them today. Taken one more look, thought more about that one word.

The kicker is, I don’t think anything we do will ever be as perfect as we want it to be. There will always be something to adjust, tweak, change or think about way too hard. That’s life, right? And I’d be shocked if anyone emails after the book comes out and says, “you know, it would have been better if you would have lost that one word on page 12.”

So how do you tame your “perfectionist” streak? Or do you? Does the same drive that makes us crazy also improve our work? Or do we just need to quit overthinking, stop the car and let things go?


2 Responses to “Time to stop dressing the baby”

  1. Crystal Says:

    Your not the only one that deals with this Angie. Yesterday, I was having the same problem. I was writing a synopsis for my novel. When I was done with it I read it over and saw that there was a sentence at the end that didn’t need to be there. So I deleted it and read it over. But then when I read it over, I thought “Now it sort of sounds incomplete, should I add the sentence I deleted back in?”

    Eventually, I left the sentence out. But it still sort of nags at me; I always think it’d sound better in there. I’m a real perfectionist when it comes to writing.

  2. Scott Granneman Says:

    “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” –Paul Valery

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