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On Perfectionism, Uncertainty, and Writing

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Lately, I've been thinking a lot about when do you know your work is done. I even looked up resources and stuff, because, you know, it's much easier to read stuff online than to sit with your inability to produce anything you think is good enough. My dilemma is this: I've been going to my Writers' group meetings for a couple of months now, and it's becoming obvious that I'm not reading my own stuff. On the other hand, I don't think I'm ready to share my work with anyone, because I don't think it's any good.

I've been thinking a lot about this because I'm also editing my first novel, and I read stuff I wrote a year ago, and I think, no, no, no, no! This is not even close to what I want it to be. Just like Ira said, there's a gap between what I like and what I can produce. I started working on it, adding a little flourishing and a little insight, but now I'm worried that in a year or so I'll look at it and the same thing will happen. In other words, I worry that it's not quite "done" yet, so I would feel like an idiot sharing it before it was done.

Apparently, however, a book is never "done". Because we grow as writers all the time, there's always a risk of looking back and saying, what was I thinking? And sure, I can treat my past self with kindness and all that BS, but the truth is that the stuff I was writing a year ago were not fit for public consumption. They just weren't good enough. But, as I mentioned before, you need someone who is not in your head to read what you're writing. You can't find all the flaws in your own work; you're too close to it.

The trouble is that it takes faith. It takes faith to accept that I can't know what the results are going to be. And it takes courage to put my writing in front of other people and say, this is what I have, this is who I am right now, and hope they'd like it or at least give their honest opinion. Some days I think I'm definitely going to do it. Some days not so much. So we'll have to see what day I'm having on the next writers' group meeting :)


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