In Which Our Heroine Combats Perfectionism (Her Own And Others')

21 September 2004

The Twins clinched their division last night. Third year in a row; well, that's fine, but the important bit is that it's the first baseball season for which we're home, and our team is in the playoffs. That's lovely.

I think Timprov had the right answer for when they were asking the guys who they wanted to play. He said, "St. Louis."

So there's that. After being brain dead most of the day, I got it together in the evening and finished off several half-done chapters on Sampo, so that was a good thing. Writing non-sequentially is coming together, finally, where I'm just having to do a few things here and a few things there to get a chapter to cohere. At least, to cohere to rough draft standards. I can see the end from here, and not only that, I can see the end close to here. Whew. Of course, the end means the beginning of revisions, but never mind that.

Today's Strib has an article that quotes George Lucas as saying, "I'm sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be." And to this, I have to say: screw you, Lucas. You had your chance. If you wanted these movies to be different, you could have waited with them. You could have kept them and tinkered with them until you were absolutely sure they were absolutely perfect. You had your revisions, your retakes, your "just one more shot, guys"es. You released them. No one broke into your home and stole them and forced them onto the big screen against your will. And now, in addition to screwing up the new movies entirely, you're trying to take back the old ones? No, go to hell, George Lucas. Don't you get it? They're not yours any more. You don't get to edit our memories. You don't get to edit our imaginations.

You certainly don't get to edit my memories or my imagination to include Hayden Christensen. Sheesh.

I understand the perfectionist impulse. Ohhhh, don't think I don't. But at a certain point, grasping at perfection means attaining nothing. You have to let things go, and you have to move on. You have to come to terms with the idea that you have a past in which you did stuff, otherwise you are boring. Personal and professional growth are good things, but they require that you have to have grown from some point. On Steven Brust's weblog a couple months ago, he says, "I think I write gooder now than I usta did." And that's a good thing. Not that I don't love Jhereg, because I do, or Yendi, or any of the others. But that the goal is to get better, and we are all better off because Dragon and Issola and all the Viscount books exist, instead of just infinitely "perfected" versions of Jhereg still sitting on his desk waiting for the absolutely right moment to go out to the publisher.

I will revise the crap out of Thermionic Night and Sampo yet this year. I will ask some of you for feedback, and I will think carefully about what you say, and I will spend a heck of a lot of time trying to get them just right. I am not anti-revision. I am not a person whose fingers drip words of purest gold onto the waiting keyboard. But two rules: one is that you don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good (see, it's just as true as it is in politics!), and the other is that once it's out, it's no longer all yours. That leaves the category of "honing a work of art" and moves into the category of "picking a scab." So don't do it.

Sigh. So. I read The Witches of Karres yesterday, and I'm still trying to figure out what felt so dated about it. I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong, but it was very mid-1960s, and I can't really figure on why. I also read T.A. Barron's Tree Girl for some contract work, and geez oh man did that suck. Note to self: do not put Surprise Twist Ending in title and cover art of book. This is another case where I hope the others of his books are better, because I have to read more of them and write the piece either way. I picked up Allen Chew's The White Death: The Epic of the Soviet-Finnish Winter War, but I'm not sure that's going to be a book I can read without cutting it with something else from time to time. It's going to be pretty emotional and also pretty heavy on the note-taking, and that's not always a good combination for reading straight through.

Lunch with C.J., then back to the book.

Back to Novel Gazing.

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