I’m a notorious perfectionist. I’ve written a number of times about the subject and the last ten years of my life have really been a case study in the high art of perfectionism and how crazy it can make you. But can you ever slake that unquenchable thirst for perfection or is it simply the incurable price of art?
Let’s just start with the most obvious statement, the epiphany that we all know and we’ve all come to about a thousand times thus far. Perfection is impossible, because your definition of ‘perfect’ is always going to change. At any given time certain aspects of a story or even the story on the whole will feel perfect, and then they won’t. You’ll look back on it, and see about a million different things you could have done better. There’s always something that could have been worded just a little bit differently, just a little bit smoother/clearer/more descriptive, the list is endless. The key is, how do you finally say: enough is enough, I have to call this finished?
If Da Vinci’s quote “Art is never finished merely abandoned,” is anything to go by, I think it’s sort of a judgement call on when you have to abandon the work. Because the reality is, as I know all too well, perfection will eat away at your soul. The pursuit of perfection is like a wildfire, it will consume everything in it’s path, including you.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive to better your craft or even better yourself as a writer, but perfection is always fleeting and always just beyond reach.
When in doubt, just remember that J.K.Rowling, one of the most beloved writer’s in the world confessed in her Year in the Life documentary that there were things she would have liked to change in her series.