Perfections isn’t a goal of mine. But it seems plenty of other people wish this of me, or at least that I wasn’t so imperfect!
That got me thinking about perfection and the need to strive for the impossible (my opinion on achieving it.) Is it necessary to have such a goal?
Is a goal of perfection detrimental to a person’s mental health?
A case in point is the manuscript of a novel. The cover of a book is of major importance. The credibility of plot and depths of characters, and a steady rise in tension are required to hold a reader’s interest. Misspelled or misused words, poor punctuation, and sloppy formatting are all distractions.
But why would it gnaw at a reader to find a typo sprinkled here or there? Enough to make them stop reading? To write a scathing review?
Why would anyone have such a strong reaction to a small blemish?
Because we want perfection for ourselves. And we expect that perfection from others. And those who expect perfection from others should know others expect the same from them. How would you react to water-logged pasta at an Italian restaurant; smudged polish on one freshly manicured fingernail; scuff marks on a Manola spiked heel; no galley margin in the first chapter of your brand new John Sandford novel; a grease spot on the foyer carpet of a Tiffany & Co. store; or dropped stitching on your Victoria’s Secret pink thong Valentine’s present?
Perfection may be overrated. But if my manuscript has flaws that readers can’t overlook to enjoy the story, then lack of perfection becomes a big problem for me. I can deal with less than al dente pasta if the sauce is magnific; a scuff on a Manola if it is on the inside of a spiked heel (maybe), or a missed galley margin on page 214 of a new novel. But smudged nail polish on French tips, grease spots at the entrance to Harry Winston, and dropped stitching . . . well, just about anywhere on Trousseau lingerie wouldn’t make the cut.
Yesterday, I read a WIP memoir that appealed to me for several significant reasons.
That appeal carried me through the unpolished manuscript beyond any misspelled,
misused, or missing words, because the story had me hooked from start to finish.
The lesson I learned? When it comes to appeal, if I miss the mark in one area, it becomes imperative that I shoot for the bulls-eye in another. Striking a perfect balance, not perfection, is my goal.
I do, however, still aim for the red center . . . every time.