My literary agent has been waiting for the synopsis of my teen trilogy now for a week-ish.
Er, make that a fortnight. At least. This is the same trilogy that I started writing approximately four years ago – words tumbling onto the page like they were coming home, until ninety-eight percent of the first book was written, and I came down with a galloping case of writers’ block.
‘What if it’s not good enough?’
Worse – ‘What if it is!’
The twin fears of failure and success keep us from getting on with things.
- If I haven’t done it, technically I haven’t failed
- I could have succeeded if I’d wanted to
- I could have done it better, if I’d had more time
- I just need to do a little more research…
- What if this takes off?
- What if everything changes?
- My comfort zone is cosy – I’ll stay here a while longer…
There’s something very frustrating about progressing effortlessly through a swamp of tasks like a pool shark sinking the coloured balls in quick succession – only to find yourself pushing the black ball all over the table, hitting walls, bouncing off pockets… as if you’ve suddenly forgotten how to play.
It’s that idea of ‘finishing’ that often sweeps the confidence from under us. Fingers hover over the ‘send’ key, mind in overdrive: Is it okay? Will they like it? Should I check it again?
Non-perfectionists, on the other hand, are high achievers. They get things done. Many, many things. And other people love them for it.
The non-perfectionist will massage something into ‘good enough’, hit send and move on. Is it quite as polished as the work of a perfectionist would be, were that perfectionist to get over herself and complete the same task?
Nuh. But it’s on the page, which is now in front of the person who needs to see it and – having ticked off the last ‘to do’ – the non-perfectionist has skipped off home and is soaking in the spa with a novel and a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. Win!
Right now, my agent could be submitting my trilogy synopsis to an editor who has a gap in their upcoming publishing schedule. Instead of being on a publisher’s desk, or even on my agent’s desk (or, dammit – on my own desk!) my synopsis is currently cowering behind a flowerette of grey matter – convincing itself that it’s not good enough, and that I should write this article instead, then put the washing on, and make a cup of tea. It suggests that I check back in tomorrow when it’s feeling more sure of itself. More ‘ready’.
Well, synopsis. I decline your very attractive offer to procrastinate! The party’s going ahead as planned. You don’t have to wear your best outfit, you don’t have to bring a plate, you don’t have to pretend to be in a good mood…
You just have to show up on the screen – a diamond in the rough. Because I’d rather have that, than no sparkle at all.
Photo: © Galina Barskaya – Fotolia.com