Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 29, 2010

Uh oh, Perfection

Most of us have been told that nothing’s perfect.
Or we’ve said it. Maybe when somebody was whining.

But it doesn’t mean we don’t crave what’s at least perfect enough to make us sit up straighter and think: yes.

Often there’s itchiness involved in writing. We get distracted by the cat, the lawn mower next door, the humming refrigerator, the unread email that seems bound to be more charming than anything in our heads. And imperfect words on screens or paper can make me even itchier. Too often, in revision-land, I read and think: ick.

I have to remind myself that perfection, or its approximation, doesn’t rise from perfection. It comes out of dust and sweat and muck. Maybe I’m on my way. Maybe — why not think this? – I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. It’s possible.



  1. This post had PERFECT timing. I am in the revision-land you described and experiencing those Ick moments–over and over. So I needed this reminder. Thanks, Jeannine.

  2. Ditto. (Says another finishing-revising writer.)

    Revision is all about the impossibility of perfection, isn’t it?

  3. “Revision is all about the impossibility of perfection, isn’t it?”

    Yes. But it is a worthy goal (or is it adversary?)

  4. Exactly where you’re supposed to be, yes, it’s possible. I wrote those very words on someone else’s blog this morning. Perfection fever may be going around. You aren’t by any chance a first-born, are you?

  5. Thank you for this important and timely reminder. I keep getting frozen as I tackle my WIP -because in my head I know what I want that final creation to look like, and it’s not going to be even close this first round. Step by step.

  6. Mary and Janni, I have complete faith that you’re both on the way to perfection. Meanwhile, enjoy the muck!

  7. Uh oh, perfection fever. Thankfully I was a middle child, so can hold some perspective. Mostly I focus some ideals of perfection on words, and can relax about imperfect people and situations and all the rest!

  8. Unfreeze, unfreeze, Debbi!

    Those ideals are good to move forward, but yes, I also find it hard when what I see on the screen is so very far from what I want it to be. Step by step sounds good.

    And I’ll be waiting for you at the finish line with coffee and cake. Or should it be champagne?

  9. Even probable!

  10. You’re very sweet, Jenn. I see from your blog that we seem to be working on the same manuscript, or at least having the same struggle. Good luck!

  11. I’m in a very swampy part of the WIP now, so thanks for the reminder that muck is part of the writerly condition. (Lots and LOTS of muck, if you’re me.)

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