Aphrodisia Authors

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Perfection vs. Excellence

Lately, I've been thinking of the difference between perfectionism and striving for excellence. A true writing perfectionist can find themselves paralyzed, unable to write because they fear what they're doing isn't perfect.
Let me state this clearly: There is no perfection in writing fiction.
No perfection.
None. Nada. Zip.
But there can be excellence. Shooting for excellence can free up a perfectionist to the point where they can write again. They can write their words today, because next time they can improve on excellence.
According to my humongous 3 volume Webster's Seven Language Dictionary Perfection is an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence.
Unsurpassable degree. Wow. Think about it. If a writer writes a perfect story, they'll never be able to surpass it. How dreary is that idea?
Which brings me to a book signing where I met a reader clutching a copy of MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS. She perched on the edge of her chair and held up her copy of the book, and said it was perfect. A perfect story. I was completely taken by surprise, because I'd never seen her before, had no idea she'd be there and I hadn't paid her a dime to say it. Really.
If I hadn't already decided on shooting for excellence rather than perfection, a conversation like that one in the bookstore (I have witnesses to this event...I do! I do!) could have paralyzed me.
My agent reminds me on a regular basis that any writer can improve, that any story can be made better. My editor knows what she likes and makes it clear when I've sent her an idea that she doesn't like. I repeat: there's no perfection in writing fiction.
Which brings me back to striving for excellence...it's really all any writer can do.
As a writer, do you demand perfection or strive for excellence?

As a reader, have you thought of the differences?

Posted by Bonnie Edwards :: 1:08 PM :: 4 comments

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