Perfection Is Overrated
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There was an author in the 1920s who wrote 60,000 words a week. I wish I could remember his name. He wrote pulp, he pushed it out as quickly as he could, and the moment it left his typewriter, it was out of his hands. It went to an editor who tailored it to the audience, then the editor shot it to the press, and the author was already likely on his third story. It was crap. He made bank.
A friend of mine writes 10,000 words in one day. This gets sent over to an erotica company where it’s basically unedited. Despite this, it makes more money than my friend makes on any other venture. It allows the other writing ventures to take place. Those 10,000 words once a week become the day job.
Have you read Twilight? When people were demanding it get removed from school libraries, I thought it was so English teachers didn’t have to unteach all that bad grammar. I was appalled anyone would remove content from a library for the material within. But the grammar within made sense. Yet, Stephenie Meyer is rich. She can write or do whatever she wants for the rest of her days.
We are told over and over again perfection is demanded. Don’t have too many adjectives, adverbs are evil, alliteration is for the 15th century, and so on. Some of the authors who follow this are famous and get paid well. Most don’t until they are in the ground.
What if perfection is overrated?
The author, and any artist, often needs to make a choice: money or art.
Twilight will die with this generation. In a century it will be forgotten, some obscure book on some bookshelf, buried in the back of an oversized library. It will be in that area where no one treads, a land where you understand loneliness.
Meanwhile, some book we never heard of will be front and center. English professors will clamor for it. Academia will thrust it in front of youthful minds. It will be the book everyone has read, but no one really read. It’s stuffy, boring, takes a great deal of thought, and sometimes a little LSD.
Which brings us back to perfection. Do we require perfection? Or do we need to grind out words and have a superb marketing department?
I believe in a middle ground. My writing is far from perfect, but I can generally tell a captivating story. I put money and effort into the production so it looks and sounds appealing. A djinn assassin was a character in my first book partially for the book blurb. Once I drop that grain, people stop listening and start pulling out their credit card. Marketing advice: get Square for your phone.
Whether you prefer the art or the money, I hope your writing goes well, and you stop beating yourself up over the small mistakes.
Oh, who am I kidding? We’re all perfectionists in our own way.
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