Today this beautiful comic from Zen Pencils popped up in my feed and ruined my mood for the rest of the day. Because it seems like it just doesn’t apply to publishing. Everyone’s all ‘perfection is the enemy of done’ until they start talking about books, at which point they’re trashing everything with a typo in it, let alone less than perfect characterisation, plot, pacing, worldbuilding, dragon anatomy.
This is just my experience, mind you, and no doubt vastly out of sync with everyone else’s, but how the hell do I know when what I’ve written is good enough to publish without striving for perfection? If I wasn’t so bothered about making stuff as perfect as humanly possible, I’ve have published a novel in 2011. It wasn’t perfect. It probably wasn’t even that good. But I thought it was done. Then I got some feedback from two people who disagreed with the ten other people who thought it was awesome, hammering it so hard that I haven’t looked at it since.
It’s hard to have faith in my editing efforts when any opinion of what’s ‘good’ is so wildly subjective, including mine. Currently I’m assuming that when the people who hammered my writing back then think it’s actually good, I’ll be ready to publish. But the thought makes me want to cry because I don’t honestly believe I’ll ever reach that point and it breaks my heart a bit.
I love writing but I’ve always wanted to share my work. Not much of it has actually made it into the world at large. To put this in perspective, over the last seven years I’ve written about 820,000 words. I’ve published maybe 60,000 of them, the longest of which is about 17k. I really can’t get past the possibility that I may never have enough faith in my work to actually publish a novel, which would make me one of those people who dies with a hundred novels on their computer, none of which have ever seen the light of day.