Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting It Right Or Getting It Perfect ?

I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I'm talking eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, noticing every drop of rain falling on the sidewalk outside awake.This doesn't happen very often. I'm not one of those people who has sleep issues and resorts to chemical intervention to fall into REM. Just the opposite. My problem is usually waking up. That's how much I like sleep. Maybe it was too much wine. Or maybe not enough.

I've been so immersed in reworking the first section of my novel that just lying there waiting to get tired enough to fall back to sleep was not going to work. I got up, turned on the computer and started catching up on my blog reading.

It got me thinking, mostly that I haven't been writing enough blogs. Wondering how so many blog writers manage to get a post out every day. My excuse has been the novel. I haven't been able to concentrate on much else. The muse has not left my side and I don't want her distracted. This beginning is important, critical in fact to getting sold. And we all know that is my goal. To get published.

Now I'm wondering if the absence of my blogs is because I want them to be as perfect as the novel. But blogging is not about stressing over every word, worrying that if you don't grab someone in the first five pages they won't stay with you for the whole novel. Because blogging is about saying something in 500 words or less. Blogging is writing for the new generation of the attention deficient.

But I have been writing to get every word perfect. Polishing that first fifty so everyone who picks it up doesn't want to put it down. And in my quest for perfection I question whether I can really write at all, whether any of my words hold any importance. This desire for perfection in the novel has stifled my ability to get anything else on paper.

Seth Godin talks about doing the work and shipping it. But can you ship before it's perfect? Or do you just hope that you got it right enough?

I was so tired Sunday after my disrupted sleep that I was forced to take the day off. I brunched with friends, walked in the rain, bought lilacs, read the New York Times, and baked cookies. I also waited anxiously for the feedback of a wise and smart friend who I had asked to read those first fifty, someone who had not read one page of this manuscript before.

She liked it. She wants to read more. I don't know if it's perfect yet, or if it ever will be. But I know I'm getting it right. And if I'm getting it right that's pretty perfect.

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