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The Perfection Paradox

After a few months of hard work, my nose to the proverbial editorial grindstone, I'm proud to say that the final pass before a professional editor gets their eyes on Temporary was recently completed!


I've blogged in the past about how creative work is never truly "done" and is instead abandoned in a state as near-final and polished as possible. If artists, writers, and creators didn't do this, I doubt anyone would release anything for fear it wasn't complete/good enough, especially when held against their ever-evolving, subjective opinion and growth.


But the most complete version of my superhero story, the first in what will become an SR Ultraverse of stories and includes Shell (a free short story you can get by signing up to my Newsletter), is now done and in the best shape it's ever been in since I first conceptualised it all those years ago.



Like releasing my lockdown horror short story, I Must Scream on Deaf Ears (which discernible, good looking readers can grab here), I'm currently in an afterglow of reflection and celebration.


Given that this story isn't available yet in the way IMSODE is, I've not been doing anything grandiose. Still, I am currently enjoying taking a step back to let the story rest like a good steak (medium-rare, thanks) until I pick it up again in a week or so to do a read through.


In the meantime, I've been enjoying spending time with my family, hanging out with my baby son, mentally and emotionally preparing for my next significant life change, and getting lost in Medieval England courtesy of my Father's Day gift, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla.


During my time away from the novel, I even wrote a piece for a competition that would see the winner create a story for quite a huge IP—so, like Goku in his confrontation with Frieza, I ask you to please lend me your positive energy!


Despite all this, however, Temporary has never been too far from my mind as I consider its merits, worry about the granular details, and mull the uncertain future of how it will be received when finally shared with the world as my confidence and concerns buffet me with highs and lows of expectation versus reality.


The majority of these thoughts happen to share aspects of a personality trait I've never really registered or recognised in myself before this editing session: perfectionism.


PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT…


Separating yourself from your work is tough at the best of times, so forcing myself to step away from Temporary—especially considering how long the story has been percolating in my life in some form or fashion—is imperative to allow me a more constructive, critical eye when it comes to putting on my Reader cap.


Now, a lot of the motivation and resolve to commit to Temporary comes from the relative success and positive reception IMSODE received and continues to receive.


Granted, my resolution and confidence waver from time to time, but by a relatively huge cosmic coincidence, I recently came across a few podcasts that helped reaffirm my decision to embrace the #IndieAuthor lifestyle.


Both of these podcasts had the same base core message, one that cut through to me during a time when I needed to hear it the most: done is better than perfect.


The first was during a podcast with Creative Rebels' David Speed, an awesome dude that I've had snippets of conversation with on Twitter.


Always really nice and a fellow pro wrestling fan with an affinity for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, David joined POST Wrestling's Wellness Policy podcast, which you can check out here. They had a great conversation that highlighted a simple truth: "Published is better than perfect."


The second was a recent episode of Write Now with Sarah Werner.


Episode #126, 'Fun is Better Than Perfect with Jimmie Bise, Jr.', sees Sarah speak with her friend, Jimmie Jr., an effusive, excitable, enthusiastic writer whose passion was infectious as he opened up about the importance of not being so precious of your work to the point you never do anything with it.


His message of getting it out there, letting it live, flourish, and (hopefully) find its audience really hit home as I neared the finish line.


Incidentally, as that defining marker crept ever closer, the editing process became a lot more difficult—mainly because THE END coming into sight directly correlated with an increased strive for perfectionism and, beyond that, the awareness of the exciting, intimidating, and inevitable NEXT STEP™!


…BUT NOBODY'S PERFECT


Suffering from perfectionism made a lengthy, difficult process that much more challenging.


On the one hand, editing and scrutinising every word and sentence helped to tighten the style, prose, and pacing; on the other are countless hours stressing over the granular choice and placement of words and sentences.


But the core message of each show was a timely, important reminder of what really mattered: get the story out rather than being overly protective of it, guarding it under a precious pretence of it "not being ready/done/good enough" as opposed to acknowledging and working through the fear.


At times like this, I like to remember the Litany Against Fear, a perfect piece on confronting things beyond our control and allowing them to pass through.


Putting it into practice, well, that can often be a different story.


Now, if you'll bow your head, let's recite it together.


Yes, even you, Jerry.



Unsurprisingly, it was an uncomfortable mirror to look into as I learned and recognised the traits associated with perfectionism for the first time, especially as it relates to procrastination and hypercriticism as byproducts of fear—which is why it was so refreshing to hear similar messages from two different podcasts in relatively short succession. There was also the timely and completely correct assertion from my partner that I didn't need to panic, overthink, or fall into overt perfectionism as any mistakes and/or issues would be...you know...highlighted by the editor! Almost like it's their job!


These reminders were like a gentle nudge from the Universe.


Or chaotic coincidence.


Whichever you prefer.


INDIE HEART


It's apparently common for indie authors to take a long time with their first story.


Established indie writers tend to joke about how once the first one is essentially exorcised, their creative output becomes like a dam breaking, with more stories flooding out of them as they increase their write and release rate. I've even heard guests on several podcasts claim to have released as many as 5-10 books a year.


How that's possible is something I'm still personally trying to fathom, especially as I can't shake the "You can have it good, fast, or cheap" dynamic that defines most creative endeavours.


But that's their journey, not mine.


What matters next for me as an author isn't the next book, series, or release. It's about reading through Temporary in the equivalent of the "car test" of a bands next album, making sure each chapter flows and connects in the way a perfect track listing does.



Past that, it's getting the story into the hands of an editor and hiring a talented cover designer to help represent my novel and capture the attention of those who may be interested in a story steeped in superhero mythology about choice, found family, betrayal, and the damaging effects of toxic masculinity.


I look forward to sharing these milestones and accomplishments and hope you continue to enjoy this peek behind the curtain of my personal process. I appreciate every one of you who have decided to be a part of this with me, whether you've recently joined the journey, have been with me since the genesis of the idea all those years ago, or are reading this retrospectively after having found, read, and hopefully enjoyed Temporary or any other of my stories in the future.


And, of course, if you like what you've heard or read about Temporary, be sure to subscribe to the blog and sign up for my Newsletter, so you never miss any future updates on this story, the Ultraverse, and all future stories.


Additionally, if you have any friends or family who enjoy superhero stories, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DCEU, or comic book lore, tropes, and mythology in general, then be sure to tell them about the book and send them my way!


Steve R

 


Please Note: This blog contains Amazon Affiliate links. Using them will not charge you any more for the product, and your purchase will help Steve Russell receive a small percentage.

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