Friday, June 12, 2009

The Perfectionist

According to A. J. Jacobs, the author of The Know-It-All, who read his way through all 33,000 pages of The Encyclopedia Brittanica, Honore Balzac was a perfectionist. He nearly bankrupted himself making changes to his manuscripts after the printer’s deadlines.

That got my attention. I am currently bogged down in the proof reading and reformatting of my novel, Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough, and it’s time to get on with it. My cover designer promises a finished product is within sight. The proofing and formatting will then be all that will stand between me and the print-on-demand publisher who will issue a paperback version for the general market.

Problem is, as though proofing and formatting isn’t enough of a chore, I keep finding small ways to improve the text. A change of word here, a minor deletion there. I’ve spent three long days getting half-way through it. If it ever makes it into print, it will be a better book than the earlier Kindle version.

But now there’s this Balzac thing. Of course there’s no way I can compare Parson Campbell’s Breakthrough to The Human Comedy, but Balzac’s work habits are nevertheless a warning to me. I’ve been labeled a perfectionist before, and the thought of ruin-by-procrastination should be enough to reform me. Strike that. Make it “enough to set me straight.”

Oh, hell!

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite (and often ignored) cautions: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." I guess the nut really doesn't fall far from the tree.