Saturday, October 7, 2017

Achieving Perfection

Lodged deep within the dark recesses of my mind lies the image of Pat, the perfect writer; an imaginary writer against whom I am continually comparing myself.

Pat never lacks for a story idea and executes each with flair, always picking the proper word on the first or second draft, executing a knowledge of the English language with lyrical descriptive passages that somehow do not detract from the execution of a well composed plot. Pat does not spend hours and hours sweating over text but dashes off a few pages before taking a break to converse with agents, editors, and fans and then returns to glance over what has been produced before departing for dinner with friends, leaving an immaculate desktop behind, the computer sleeping while digesting the  portion of a masterpiece it has been fed.

Pat earns enough from writing to pay the bills and never has to take time off to transport spouse or kids to the doctor, market, or some damn PTA thing or other.  Pat's life is orderly and calm so that nothing ever interferes with the hours of pleasurable writing that structure the day.  At night, Pat sleeps soundly and is never beset with nightmares or worse, niggling self-doubts about the passages crafted during the day.

Pat has a wonderful career, with works appearing with great regularity in magazines and thick print novels (in hardback, of course). Pat is sought for panels at all the large conventions where long lines appear at the signing table where Pat never fails to write astonishingly gracious bon mots to accompany the flourishing signature in each and every volume.

I fail to measure up to any of Pat's attributes.  My writing schedule is erratic and the proper words are ever evasive, forcing me to use those of less force or meaning. I lie awake at night worrying about editors taking too long to make decisions, worrying that a magazine will fold before my story ever sees print, worried that the latest piece I sent obviously needed more work so I shouldn't have been so hasty to send it off, worrying that I am not spending enough time on my writing, my family, my job and all of that, all of the foregoing, crashes around my head as I struggle to mold one word after another into something that seems to make sense in draft after draft.

 Yet, despite all the negativity, all the demeaning aspects of writing, I nevertheless find it endlessly fascinating to wrest sense from thought and then to hone that rough nugget of raw draft through repeated edits until the precious jewel within is revealed.

That is why I write despite the niggling image of Pat in my head.


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