by Sarah S.
I have a TERRIFIC new novel. No, really. You would love it! The plot would enthrall you, the storyline would keep you up at night and the characters, brimming with rich emotional complexity, would literally make you swoon. After reading the last line of this absorbing narrative your only question would be “Where can I get the sequel?”
So now, of course, you find yourself wondering where you can acquire this masterful piece of fiction, Right? Well, here’s the thing, it’s currently unavailable except in the murky alcoves of my mind and I can’t recommend rummaging around in there (it’s scary sometimes!) Still this story which has been expanding through every nook and cranny of my brain over the past few years deserves to be released. I don’t mean “released” as in lining the shelves of bookstores near you so much as freed from the confines of my imagination.
This story must be written if for no other reason than to liberate my dear characters for whom I’ve developed such a deep affection. I worry about them and wonder what they’re up to. I decorate their homes, name their pets and augment their back stories with details that will never find their way into the finished product, but particulars that are nonetheless critical to informing the habits, motives and choices of these individuals.
So why haven’t I written all this down? Good question. It’s Plato’s fault. Rather, it’s related to Plato’s concept of ideal forms.This ancient theory holds that the perfect representation of a thing cannot be adequately expressed in the material world and is, therefore, always inferior to it’s archetype which exists only in the immaterial realm. Or something like that. Anyway, the notion of ideal forms illustrates well the problem of paralyzed perfectionism that can infect even the most prodigious writers.
Anne Lamott counsels that “Perfectionism is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. “ Oh, how I cringe over the shitty first draft. It’s so painful. Fortunately I am privy to the sage advice from all of you wonderful Northern Colorado Writers. I have learned so much from reading your posts in which you generously share your tips, tricks, foibles, failures and successes. It truly is inspiring.
Beyond Plato and Anne Lamott, perhaps the best answer for how to combat crippling perfectionism can be found in Richard’s last post in which he advises just “Git ir Done”. Wise words indeed!