A Case of the Cowardlies

Yellow-bellied

Which is really just a raging case of perfectionism. I have written a new prologue to Grove, deleting a lot of the old one and absorbing the rest into the new. I have heavily rewritten parts of the first few chapters and made a few major changes to the characters and writing. There’s a good balance of what I had and what I want, and I have the first five pages that I need to submit for this Pitch Wars contest ready to rumble. Two-thirds of the novel needs editing, but it’s finished and I can edit it by the 12th when teams are announced. Entries are due by the 5th, Wednesday. Why am I chickening out now?

Perfectionism. All it really means is that it is not possible for anything to be good enough. Nothing is perfect, and to a perfectionist that doesn’t just mean “could be better”, it means “not ready”. Which means everything, forever will be not ready unless some other non-perfectionist comes along and says “hey, cool!” and grabs the thing we are obsessively fiddling with from our overly judgmental hands. My husband is often my catalyst, my non-perfectionist telling me “It’s good: turn it in, submit it, show it, get it out there. Get paid for it!” Luckily, he’s very honest, so I tend to trust that he won’t tell me something is good just to soothe the frazzled perfectionist in me. Instead, he tells me to eat something or go to bed.

Productive. What a lucky lady I am.

This does not solve the perfectionism problem. I keep telling myself that there is no harm in trying, just write the damn query already and send the three e-mails. The worst case would be that no one picks me for their team and I am back exactly where I am today, which is not so bad. Best case would be selling my novel and having extra money and more people to discuss it with. If you haven’t noticed, I am trying to talk myself out of my cowardly spell with this blog entry.

When I read the team captain’s blogs I feel like I am so ready, and when I read my novel I think it could be so much better. It’s good, and I like it, but it could be more. More exciting, more meaningful, more thrilling, more more more.

You can let those first two go by but I think I’ll swing if it’s all the same to you, Casey.

Then I go read my reviews on Goodreads and think about how I am a lot more harsh on books than most other people are. I think about how I hold myself to that same standard, a tougher one even, because I don’t cut myself any slack the way I try to remind myself to do for others. I think about people out there who might enjoy my book if they had the chance to read it. I think about authors like Maggie Stiefvater and Stephen King, and how their writing has grown and developed greater depth over the course of their careers. I think that I will grow, too.

Which probably means I shouldn’t let every single thing I write languish until the day I have grown “enough”…because I will probably never be able to identify that day.

So that was the wind up, and here comes the pitch.

Hoping to connect.

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4 responses to “A Case of the Cowardlies

  1. Man, if I had something remotely ready I would submit with you, just to take the scary away. Unfortunately, I get to miss the fun stuff during the next two months while I’m busy “putting it to paper.”

    The next best thing though is this: I have experienced the original NaNo draft of Grove and loved it…as a reader and harsh critic. (Not to mention, I am dying to read the second installment…Just sayin.)

    Most of all, not only are you a great writer, but having read the posted snippets that you’ve revised from the original? Yeah, Kristy. You’ve only grown in skill. You owe it to yourself (and your story) to take the plunge.

    Though I’m scribbling away right now, don’t think for even a millisecond that I’m going to let you pass this opportunity up!

    GO. FOR. IT!

    • Here’s a deal for you, Ms. T: I will trade you the first draft of Starsand for your completed draft of Dead Letters. Thank you for the encouragement, I am a pro at talking myself out of taking chances.

  2. Thank you for sharing this because, as you probably know, I suffer from exactly the same malady-except that my manuscript really isn’t ready. πŸ˜‰ I can see from your reasoning that it might be closer than I thought. Perfectionism is a Beast!

    Your story is really good, as I mentioned, and I was really drawn into it. I am sure the prologue and first chapters have tightened up considerably and you really owe it to yourself to share it with the world. I have great confidence in you!

    • I had this feeling that you might be a perfectionist with the editing, editing, editing πŸ™‚ I’m sure it’s fantastic and I can’t wait to get a peek! I guess if nothing else submitting it and chronicling the process could make for some interesting blog entries.

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