As I research what makes a successful writer, I continually come across the advice that quantity is the key. “Still not done with the first book? Start the second and meanwhile, market, market, market!! Oh, and don’t forget to read other authors, and don’t forget to network. And that whole family you have, screaming for your attention, just ignore them. They are not important!” That last part was hidden in code, but I heard it loud and clear.
While juggling all these balls in the air, it’s a wonder that I haven’t passed out from concussion based on how many fell on my head. How am I supposed to produce quality work if I’m multi-tasking?
Now, I know there are some of us who struggle with perfectionism. Perfectionism, experts say, is just an extension of insecurity and anxiety. If our work is not perfect, then it won’t be loved, right? Yet love, true love, is appreciating something despite its imperfections, be it man, woman, or writing.
A wonderful fan recently sent me a list of typos that she had found on my second book. There weren’t that many, about four, but I was mortified that they existed. I was certain I had hired the right people for editing. I even read my entire book backwards (yes, backwards) in order to find any extra errors. It apparently forces an editor to scrutinize the sentence and not get too caught up in the story. Maybe I should be flattered the original editors missed some of these typos. They must have just been too engrossed in my story. Here’s to positive spins!
Still, this very special fan went out of her way to help and she still continues to support my writing with kind and encouraging messages. For her, the book was still good even though it wasn’t perfect.
Of course, I went back and corrected every mistake and thanked her profusely for her help. Maybe she should be my new editor?
However, if I spent more time editing and looking for tiny mistakes, it would have slowed publication. Could I have lost her and other fans simply because I didn’t produce books fast enough?
Is it better to just put the novels out there and correct them later?
Of course, everything is a delicate balance. A handful of typos shouldn’t hinder the pace of a story. For those of us who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on top quality editors, you just have to grit your teeth, pour yourself an extra cup of black coffee and be prepared to read how your characters get to “unknow” each other. It’s the driest, most painful process ever. But I’m willing to go the extra mile. Because, honestly, I don’t want to frustrate my readers. I care about their experience delving into my world and I want that experience to be incredible.
You see, I’m one of those “re-readers.” When I find a book I truly love, I can easily read it ten times. As I grow (and yes, even though I’m well in my thirties, I never stop growing), I love rereading the books I enjoyed as a teenager or as a twenty-something and noticing little details that were overlooked the first time around. How honored I would be if any of my books made it to someone’s “re-read” list!
So I guess, in the end, the question is one of definition. What makes a “successful” writer?
Usually, the metric is wealth. Everybody hopes to achieve a certain level of financial reward for all his or her hard work, but it’s still too early to gauge at the moment. A common saying among writers is that becoming a successful author is a marathon, not a sprint. If one perseveres long enough and continues to work on their craft, success if more likely. Oh, and let’s not forget the many talented writers who became famous post-mortem! Not anyone’s ideal, I’m sure, but late is better than never! I just hope my daughter won’t spend it all on My Little Pony dolls.
However, when I think of the real reason I love writing, I come to a warm realization. I have a fan, at least one, who loves my work, and told me that she plans to reread two of my books before the third book is out so that she could refresh her memory. She loved them despite their imperfections.
As far as I’m concerned, I am already a “successful” writer.
So without any more procrastination, pour me another cup, no sugar today, I don’t have time to run it off. Let’s put the “labor” into this “labor of love.”
Book three, last sentence, “The End.”