Sunday, April 26, 2009


Brr, it's a bitey and windy Autumnal... nay, Winter's day. Near gale-force (poor Gail) winds actually, that nips at any exposed flesh.

And that makes it perfect for staying indoors, all nice and toasty warm, and werkin'. And so I have been. I'm on the last of eight books I've been reading through and making editorial notes on.

Of course, it then struck me to wonder how much note-taking is enough? The current set are about half a page - double spaced - for each book. Some are minor, like re-checking eye colours (okay, that's pretty major, not minor). Others are things like checking topography, increasing the length of scenes and adding descriptions. All in an effort to make a readable book, more readable.

Well, yesterday, I was reading the paper - as you do - and came across a book review on procrastination. I can't remember the name and I'm too lazy to go upstairs to check, okay? But if you wanna know, I find it...

What struck me about this review is that goes into detail about the whys and wherefores, in particular, perfectionism. Ah, yes, the idea that It Must Be Perfect before anything else happens.

I think everyone has heard of someone else who's worked on a book for years, usually the writing of it, without ever publishing it because it's just not right yet. And it pains me to admit that I'm probably suffering from the same malaise.

I'm scrubbing and polishing and note-taking on my books to make sure they're as perfect as they can be, and still wondering if they're at a publishable level. Sometimes, not such a bad thing - like when I discovered I'd changed two characters around in a sequel - but not always a good thing, either.

What am I going to do about it? We-ll, I'm undecided, actually. Recognising you have a problem is the first step, right? And I suppose the second is to do something about it... post something on Scribd or is that a cop out? You tell me.


Marina said...

Have you sent any of your short stories to magazines? If not, that could be less confronting than submitting a novel.

Not that I'm any great expert, since I'm only just dipping my toe into the water myself. There was a character in Middlemarch by George Elliott called Casaubon, who spent his whole life taking notes for the definitive work he was going to write ... but never actually started writing. I think of him sometimes. At least your notetaking comes after you've actually written the book!

But as Holly Lisle says "perfect never finishes". Could be time to bite the bullet! Do you have any friends who could read something for you and tell you if it's really finished and you're just tinkering? Or maybe try an online crit group?

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Pandababy said...

Yes, good luck from me too Jaye. I have read a number of your stories that I think are as good or better than anything published. Some of my favorite SF authors began with short stories - Nancy Kress, C. J. Cherryh, Sandra McDonald. So have you sent any of your short stories to magazines?

Jaye Patrick said...

Hmm... yes, I have sent out stories to no avail... yet.

I should keep trying, however much I prefer novel writing. is an excellent source for print or e-magazines.

"Perfect never finishes." I like that and something to remember.

Time to bite the bullet and hunt down an agent, while sending stuff out.

And thanks for the luck; I shall keep it close.