Monday, April 19, 2010

Beauty Spots

Sometimes when I read other people's writing and then they read mine I am surprised that they like it. I see their work and make a comparison and its not even close. Comparison is almost always a bad idea. I've been over my work a hundred times trying to make it perfect and I see confused plotting and unclear character development, chaotic blocking and those annoying little typos that I was sure I'd cleared out. I see imperfection. I am aghast. But that is not necessarily what my readers are going to see.

Think of it like the wrinkles or zits (depending on your age I guess) we often obsess over on our faces. Our flaws and imperfections always seem obvious to us because we are so close to them but even if we forget to rub ourselves down with lotions for a day no one is going to say "Oh my God, look at those bags under that woman's eyes". They probably won't even notice them but if they do it won't be such a big deal. They don't expect the same kind of perfection we do from ourselves. In fact in the case of a mole or one eye a little higher than the other our imperfections might even be what people find attractive about us. They are the beauty spots that make us unique.

So obsess over your imperfections. (in writing that is. I'm not about to condone obsessing over your appearance)Get rid of those punctuation mistakes and plot holes and clumsy dialog but also remember that you will never reach perfection. You don't have to. If you compare your work to other people's you're not letting your story speak for itself and your mistakes may even be a part of what makes your writing beautiful in the first place.


  1. Good point! I certainly didn't expect you guys to like my stuff as much as you did, mostly because I kept finding "flaws" while I was reading it.

    But that's why critique groups are SO important. If I write something I think is brilliant and every one else hates it, I know to take it out. If I write something I hate and everyone else loves it, well, I can make my peace. These are extreme examples, but our view of our work is fundamentally flawed in many ways. Outside perspectives are vital to learning how to see it ourselves.