Be Unafraid to Demand Perfection
Posted by E on August 31, 2008
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
It’s kind of ironic to agree with Einstein’s phrase and be as OCD as I tend to be. Still, as much as I derive comfort in the repetition of certain things, in the recurrence of my everyday routines, I also realize that it is only by tweaking and modifying my writing that it can evolve into a perfect form.
You can call me an idealist, a sentimentalist, a naive village idiot, but I believe in perfection. That it is truly possible, albeit infrequent, rare, going extinct, but possible, to hold in your hand the contents of perfection. I believe that it is possible to create a book that, like a painting, becomes so “finished” that not another word, not another comma, can be added without altering its perfect form and vision.
I am not a post-modernist; I don’t see a chicken scratch as art, nor do I think that someone who hurls a can of paint at a canvas is anymore an artist than a monkey or those Thai elephants who are given brushes by their handlers and produce watercolours with their trunks.
I appreciate effort much more than spontaneity.
There have been days when I sat down at the keyboard and every word I wrote was gold. But those days do not shine as often as some may think; mostly a lot of reworking is involved in producing something that others see as flawless, as a work of genius. And just like a dancer quickly wipes the sweat on her brow and smiles as she bows to her audience, so should all writers aim for perfection in our works – but perfection that is seen by outsiders, by our audiences, as easy. As light – not light as in substance, but light as in its approach to the masses.
I want my book to be light as a feather to readers – be easy on the eyes, but as hard as a fist to the head to shake off. If you make the entry point irresistable, a reader will enter. And from that point, you can take them anywhere. They are yours.
It’s hard work to do something flawlessly and make it look easy. Too many writers lull themselves into thinking that writing a first draft is all that’s required – that the greatest feat was simply the process of capturing the vision, and once the manuscript is finished, it’s time to celebrate.
No book is finished until it is finished.
Writing day after day, a singular process, does not get you anywhere unless you get out of your head – and travel every day to different lands, to exotic places where words rain upon your fingers, creating new permutations of thought and imagery.
Choose to be a non-conformist. An iconoclast. It’s what is required to create something entirely new.
Anything is possible.