Dialing in to perfection

If you are a writer, it helps to be a mildly-obsessive perfectionist. If you are a perfectionist, writing is one of the few avenues you can pursue where you aren't guaranteed to drive everyone around you crazy.

Which doesn't mean that you won't from time to time. Yesterday the writers' group went over chapter 2 of Trust, and most people loved how I handled introducing the alien species. Nine species in two pages, and they didn't feel overwhelmed! They were very impressed.

And one was like, Well, I felt overwhelmed. I guess I'm just dumb. Of course that was the person I honed in on: How do you think I could improve that?

I'm sure the other people felt a little dissed. They were probably thinking, Hey! I LOVED it! And this person is taking the blame, so what's the problem? Doesn't my opinion matter? Do you respect that person more than me? Do you just tune out praise?

And I don't--it's not like I'm thinking those two pages need a major overhaul. But if I can slow it down just a notch, then maybe I can hit that sweet spot, that literary nirvana where no one feels like its too fast or too slow, where everyone is just captivated.

Does that point actually exist? NO--someone's going to hate what you write no matter what you do. But I try for it anyway, because that is the perfectionist in my nature.

Of course, the down side of perfectionism and having unrealistic expectations for yourself is that it's often hard to finish a project. I feel like I'm stalling out on Trust again--I just can't seem to get started on it. And some of it is that the house has been taking up a lot of my time (I have now put anything but the most necessary home-improvement projects on hiatus), but I think a bigger part of it is that I'm getting closer and closer to being done, and that can be a very intimidating thing. Being done is when you have to expose your work to the world, and that's just scary.