Saturday, January 05, 2013

Getting it Right is Not Perfectionism

By Keith N Fisher

Where I live, recently, we had a few consecutive snowstorms. Each time, I came home from work and drove into my driveway before removing the snow. To make matters worse, I didn’t get the trailer parked in its place this year. It shades half of the driveway so the sun can’t melt the ice.

Consequently, we’ve been dealing with tire width ice strips that didn’t melt. The real problem was the ice sheet covering that part of the sidewalk. I’ve been haunted by thoughts of someone falling on the ice.

Finally, the sun came out the other day, so I went out to chip the polar ice cap away. I used a plastic shovel, and spread lawn fertilizer on it, working on it throughout the day. After a while, I got rid of most of it.

Some people might look at those efforts as a sign of perfectionism. Normally they might be right, but our city has an ordinance about clearing the sidewalks and people could sue. I was only protecting myself by doing a necessary job.

While chipping ice, little by little, I thought of an analogy of writing that you might enjoy. Recently, I’ve been fine-tuning a couple of manuscripts. In one story, I’ve been rewriting to meet my current level of writing ability.

At the same time, I’ve been tuning the content, making it easier to read and make sense. Often, I’ll have gone past a scene and a better way of writing it will come to mind. Like chipping at the ice, I go back and replace bits and pieces, making a better story.

This kind of writing might be obsessive. It certainly never ends. I’ve been hit by ideas for books long after they’re finished. Of course, I can’t keep coming back to old stories and make them better, but why not? All of that chipping will not make it perfect, but I’ll have a clean driveway. Maybe someday, I will be a good enough writer. My books will not be perfect, but they’ll be clean.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Tristi Pinkston said...

Great analogy!

Keith N Fisher said...

Yeah. that's the word I was trying to think of, but didn't have time. analogy

Unknown said...

It is a good analogy. And I'd say that kind of writing isn't obsessive, it's.... writing.


Problem is, sometimes writing gets published & then you're kind of stuck. NO more ice-chipping. In that case, forgive yourself and give yourself slack. Love yourself at every stage of the writing process.