I wanted to deal with a single topic in today’s post. Not that any of my other posts deal with a multitude of topics, but I just wanted to look at one thing today. That thing is one feature that I am slowly coming to the realization is harming my ability to move forward.
Being an indie writer, I have the ability to pretty much do whatever I want. On the extreme end, I could literally rewrite an entire book after years of it being published… same title, only the interior would resemble absolutely 0% of what it was when originally published. In simpler terms, I can edit books post-publishing, refining the story or correcting minor errors as they are found.
That’s the problem. Because I can, I want to.
Given that I don’t have the ability to afford an editor at this point in my journey, I’ve certainly gone back to books to fix simple, silly mistakes that I’ve left in a book when I clicked the publish button. In those cases, I believe it the right thing to do. Spelling mistakes, word usage… things that are easily justified. But lately, I’ve continued to have the urge to make major revisions to stories that I’ve had published for several years.
To revise or not to revise; that is the question.
The temptation to do so is always there. Like a nagging toddler, it is difficult not to give into the urge to simply satiate that urging to placate it, to silence it through relenting to its cries.
There is a great quote from Voltaire, “perfect is the enemy of good”. Infinite variations of that quote exist as well, all centering around the idea that spending too much time pursuing perfection will harm the chances of something being good. While I might not be directly thinking that my efforts of revision are equivalent to my chasing perfection, it ultimately is just that: a pursuit of perfection.
Granted, I am not by any means asserting that my books are good; rather, I am only saying that I should consider that good-enough.
Perfect is bantered about in conversation far too often, and our pursuit of it is often like an opiate addict chasing the dragon. There is no catching the dragon; it will forever remain out of reach.
The thing is, as I grow as a writer, the expectation is that I should see what I wrote before as not up to par with what I write in the present. Each sentence I form is a part of a larger journey towards growth, not perfection. Each book, good or bad, well received or panned, successful or refined to the pile of the unknown, are each a stepping stone. I can stop to brush off some dirt from each stone as I move forward, but eventually my focus on their blemishes will mean that my focus is not on the road ahead.
Coming to terms with the many things that I’ve had to over the last few months, this idea of revising to perfection is one that I have to give up. Make revisions a few times it edits prior to publishing, but once it’s published, I need to restrict myself to only fixing the simple errors that I missed. Wrong words, spelling errors, and other objects in the story that don’t genuinely change the whole story are things that are safe. Beyond that, I should let these stories be good enough.