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The Problem with Perfection (Issue #7 of a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
I’m imagining every editor I’ve had over the past twenty years leaning in to find out my answer to this question (I apologise ahead of time for what follows - it may piss you off).

There is a time for perfection and there’s a time for just hitting send/publish/go.
I think one of the reasons that enjoy creating websites and apps is because the concept of hitting publish when you get to 90% ready is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. We know it’s imperfect. We know we’re going to have to create patches and updates and fixes. But we go. Because if it’s perfect you’ve spent way way too long at the drawing board.
This newsletter is an example of just hitting publish. I’ve been creating content for a long time, so I knew that before I launched a website I needed about 25 good content ideas so I would be able to fall into a rhythm for publishing and not get distracted by scrambling for ideas. Once I had those 25 ideas fleshed out in a sentence each, I looked for a software I hadn’t used before (because I like to learn) and hit publish.
It’s an imperfect newsletter and it’s constantly adapting. For example, my friend Colleen pointed out that though my Twitter handle is in the headline, it’s not clickable. Fixed on newsletter #7.
What is your definition of perfection?
Obviously, I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive for perfection. I grade papers as part of my instruction at Ryerson, and I am grading for many things, including an adherence to the CP Style guide and basic English grammar rules of punctuation and sentence structure. I’ve never graded a perfect paper, but I know that I’ve also never written a perfect paper. So we have to get close, as close as we can, with what Deadpool calls Maximum Effort.
But I’m one of those people who is annoyed when we have a panel of agents or editors up on the stage telling us how to make our query letters better.
Invariably, their first piece of advice is “to get that query letter as clean and perfect as you can,” before you send it out. Many say the same thing about our manuscripts.
Here’s the thing: of course we’re going to do our best cleaning and clarifying and creating the best version of our query letter/manuscript that we can. I don’t know anyone in the writing community who is just whipping off their first draft and sending it out on submission. This isn’t a lark. It’s a passion project for most writers.
But you’re not really turning down great stories because of bad grammar. Fifty Shades of Grey is evidence that terrible writing and a storyline setting feminism back decades can make agents dance like elves at Christmas.
Editors have jobs too, and it’s not to write the story, it’s to make it better. Every book I’ve written has been made better by my editors. Every journalistic story I’ve written has been improved by my editors. I have great ideas. I write well. I’m not perfect.
But spending months and years stressing about each comma, each word, each punctuation mark? No thank you. I’d rather dedicate my time to the best story I can write and then collaborate with a brilliant editor to take it up a notch.
To quote Shia Lebouf:
Hit send. Just do it. Stop futzing.
Hit send. Just do it. Stop futzing.
Next time:
🔍Angela Misri 🐾 (@karmicangel) | Twitter
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Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Digital Director @TheWalrus, journalist, fiction author, instructor @RyersonU and nerdy Kashmiri Canadian. Opinions are my own.

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