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“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.”

~William James

The problem with being a perfectionist is, well simply put . . . being a perfectionist. If you are one of “those” people, you know what I am talking about. Sure, there are some things I can let go of, like my messy closet I must get around to organizing with a bulldozer, but there are other things I am a terrier about.

My book is one of them. I find myself saying, “My book is finished . . . almost.”

Of course I want it free of typos and such, but when does one stop word-smithing? I’m not talking about changing the word “happy” to “glad” here. Reworking sentences and even whole paragraphs to make them perfect is a noble pursuit, but when does one know when a novel is finished? The day it is on bookstore shelves? The day the Pope blesses it? The day the kitchen timer goes off with a resounding ding to indicate my book is finished baking?

So I tweek, rearrange, spit-polish, tighten, and gnaw on my book like a bone. I sometimes think our old friend Mr. Shakespeare nailed it in the line from King Lear, “Striving to better, we oft mar what’s well.” I know this is true from experience. In some of my editing and tweeking, a later find that I left in a stray word I meant to take out, or take out too many.

But then again, we have these two conflicting quotes:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

AND

“A beautiful thing is never perfect.”

~The Book of Proverbs

If you are struggling with the same dilemma, here is a link to Roz Morris’ helpful advice:

how-do-you-know-when-your-book-is-finished

I leave you with this. Even Mother Nature isn’t always perfect. Here is an example of when she got it right:

Tornadoes on the other hand, she should rethink.

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