Zestful Blog Post #73
How do you know when a book is done? When is it ready to wing its electronic way to agents and editors? When do you hit 'PUBLISH'?
Recently I was listening to an artist discuss her current project, which consists of many moving parts and interfaces. Very complex. I perceived that over time, she'd been agonizing over increasingly fine details, and was starting to have difficulty making aesthetic decisions. She didn't know how long it would take to make it good enough for the marketplace.
Right then it dawned on me. "You're there," I said.
And I saw the exact parallel with writing projects—novels, nonfiction, stories, essays. Anything you create, really. When your project is rough, it's easy to see ways to make it better, and you busy yourself in the execution. Then the finishing process starts to get ever more delicate; you use a finer and finer grade of grit to shape your product. When you're not sure whether that speck is a bump or a hollow, stop. Ship it.
But it's not perfect! I know it! I can feel it!
Good. Nothing's perfect. Moreover, nothing should be perfect. Have you heard about
the rug makers of Persia who deliberately weave in an error out of fear of creating a mistake-free product? The same is attributed to Amish quilt makers, Navajo blanket weavers, Turkish shipbuilders, etc. The idea is that only the deity can be perfect. Presumably, then, to create something perfect would be an affront to that deity.
What a great, freeing idea for all artists! Leave perfection to the godhead! Do your best, ship it, declare victory, and move on.
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[Photo of cool rug by ES]