“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
“Citizenship in a Republic,”Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
The best part about being a writer is knowing you don’t have to be perfect because no matter what you produce some of your readers will think it is crap. It won’t matter if you win a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize either, some critic will tell you it is the worst thing they have ever read.
I don’t know any of this from experience nor can I say I have written a best seller about…well anything.
But I have been published in a variety of places and I have received the compliments and criticism that come from publishing and not just from family members either.
A Writer’s Worst Enemy
I also know from experience that a writer’s worst enemy is often the person whose face they see staring back in the bathroom mirror. It is not unusual or uncommon for us to question the value of our work or to be concerned about whether it is good enough to publish.
It is a big part of why some writers fall into the trap of trying to achieve perfection when they should be willing to work with “good enough.”
Don’t mistake that last line to mean we should accept or be happy with inferior work because it doesn’t mean that at all. What it means is you do your best to produce high quality work but understand the chase for perfection is never ending. You can always find a better way to say, scream, write or shout it.
There is always going to be a piece of work that you look at with envy and admiration because you wish you could produce something similar.
It is why you have to find the place where you can accept “Good Enough” because if you don’t you won’t ever publish and that a problem.
Publish or Perish
Publish or perish isn’t something that is limited to the academic world. Writers start out their lives by belonging to a class called “Starving Artists” and those that don’t publish are guaranteed to stay there.
Perfection is nothing but a big white whale and your harpoon just can’t penetrate the layers of blubber between you and it. You already know that to be a writer means you have to become a good friend of rejection. It is ok, there is nothing wrong with that.
Remember we already talked about how some people will hate your work and some people like your parents will praise you for writing about how Jack and Jill managed to fetch a pail of water.
Stop listening to the voices that tell you to not publish and just point, click and send your work to someone who can pay you for it. If you are going to strike you might as well go down swinging because an out is an out.
The big difference between you and the person who doesn’t swing is simple– you can close your eyes knowing you tried and they have to live with the shame that comes from being unable to take a chance.
Don’t let perfection ruin good enough. Just write.