Writer. Perfectionist. Human.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent the first fifty pages of the book to a few people. I know that this is a dangerous thing to do, but in my defense, I was considering submitting some of the pages to the Vermont College and I like having some one else take a look at it.

I know that I have some blind spots when I am writing. I might edit something five or six times, run it through a spell check/grammar check. I will print out the pages and do a hard copy edit and then run through it again. I do a read out loud to catch phrases that seem strange. And still…there is something. It was like this when I was writing my thesis too. I would think that I got everything and still my supervisor would find something.

I guess that is why we have editors…

My friend gave me some great feedback on the writing today. She also found a couple of grammar/typo issues. Nothing that was a big deal, but they were there. At first I felt so incredibly embarrassed. The next thought that I had was something about her thinking less or me as a person. I pondered what the other people I sent it out to will think when they read it.

Granted the draft is as I have told them…rough. Rough means that there will be typos and some things that need work. Yet, there is a part of me, my little artist ego, which can be so fragile and scared to make her way into the world, that wants to fix it all right away. I can feel it in my stomach. That need to succeed. That need to be perfect.

And there it is then…the perfectionist rearing her evil little head. She emerges in many ways with a variety of different outfits. Sometimes it is about body image. Sometimes it is about keeping the house in order. In this case, it is about being perfect right away. That what I write will be perfect. I don’t even know what that means exactly. But, I would say that there would be this inner understanding of knowing exactly what the perfect words (in the right order) will be.

So what do I do. Email the couple of people that I sent it up to and say, “No! Wait! Use this one instead.” Or, do I just forget about it and see what they have to say. I know what the perfectionist in me wants to do -the part of me that is embarrassed and feels ashamed for the errors of my ways.

When I put my name on something I am saying this is my work. I am owning this. So when there are errors, does it make me look lazy or inadequate? Will the person reading it think that I was careless? Or, will they think that I am just human?


About Melanie J. Fishbane

My novel, MAUD: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was published in 2017 through Penguin Random House on April 25, 2017. I hold an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Here I talk about my writing process, things I love, and creative people who inspire me.
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