ON PERFECTION

As human beings, many of us seek perfection in one form or
another. As human beings we are incapable of perfection. Yet striving for that
Platonic ideal is often a driving force that takes us to heights we might never
otherwise have achieved. But like most quests for the unattainable, the search
for perfection can lead to dissatisfaction and poor self-esteem when we don’t
come up to our own high standards (or those of others).

I remember seeing a movie made about Karen Carpenter (of the
Carpenters. Hopefully you’re old enough to remember them, LOL!) She was this
amazingly talented woman who achieved world-wide success in her field, but
because of one reporter’s comment about her putting on weight she fell into the
anorexic trap, which finally killed her. I remember being both furious with
that reporter and saddened by the thought that such a bright shining light
could be destroyed by her perception of her own imperfection. I also realised
that it didn’t matter how many people applaud us, if we focus on our
imperfections they can destroy everything else in our lives. The Dark can
overtake the Light.

I am the first person to acknowledge that I’m not a great
writer. For a long time that fact stopped me from getting my stories out into
the world. When you’ve studied the masters it’s hard to look favourably at your
own poor scribblings. But then I realised that I didn’t aspire to be a great
writer because it wasn’t the writing that interested me, it was the story or
message I was conveying that was important. If I could do a ‘good enough’ job
conveying that message then I was the kind of writer I wanted to be.

A wonderful writer (a serious contender for greatness in the
future I believe) called Blakely Chorpenning read the first in my Werewolf Keep
Trilogy and wrote a very incisive review of it here: http://indiscriminatewrites.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/guardian-of-werewolf-keep-by-nhys.html

She later offered to betaread my next Werewolf Keep story
and I jumped at the chance. She finished that a few weeks ago and I took almost
all her suggestions on board and made it a better book. It’s available now on
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Imprisoned-Werewolf-Keep-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00FYXBHRS
and will be free for 5 days starting 31st October 2013.

That’s the plugs over. Now for the point of this post. I can’t
leave well enough alone, when it comes to my stories. What I love about the
ebook revolution is that you don’t have to. I can publish and then republish
and then republish again, nipping and tucking ad infinitum. So, after working
through Blakely’s suggestions for
Imprisoned at Werewolf Keep
I started applying the same suggestions to the
first in the Trilogy, Guardian of
Werewolf Keep
. So, even though the original story has been polished
repeatedly and proofed professionally, I could still see how it could be
improved. Which meant that instead of writing more stories, which is my
passion, I’m backtracking again, working toward a perfection I know I will
never achieve.

There is a fine line between working toward perfection to
produce the best you are capable of doing, and getting side-tracked away from
your goal by the unimportant details. The key to determining which side of the
fine line you fall is the word unimportant.

A friend of mine insists that paving stones in her yard be
laid perfectly, something her more slap-dash husband has problems with at times.
But for her, because of a physical challenge that makes walking difficult,
having those pavers just right means she can walk securely across them. That
focus on detail is important.

So, how important is improving Guardian to my main purpose – conveying the message? That’s what I
have to keep in mind every hour I spend on rewrites. Because the Werewolf Keep
stories are not really about werewolves. They’re about Jung’s Shadow and our
need for self-acceptance. Therefore, because the message is incredibly
important, I have come to believe that spending the extra time improving the
form will get the message across more effectively. So in this case the details
are not unimportant. But I never want
to become like a writer I heard about who has taken years to write one book and
is still doing revisions before he puts it out there.

Bottom line: a poorly conveyed message is better than no
message at all.