Perfectionism And Puzzle Pieces

The goal is closer.   I am over 71,000 words with the latest work in progress.  The book needs to come in around 90,000, give or take a couple thousand words.  This is generally speaking.  We know there are rule breakers out there, but like this latest article in Writer’s Digest discusses, the rule of thumb for literary/commercial fiction is between 80,000 – 89,999, and even 90,000 – 99,999 is okay.  As an unpub’ed writer, rule breaking is off limits.

I still have a lot of stuff yet to happen, and that’s good.  No, that’s great actually.  Because if the book comes in at 110,000 or 120,000, that gives me plenty of leeway to edit/revise, i.e., kill all those little darlings.  It’s always hard to predict what the word count will be anyway.  When it gets to this point, it can get a little overwhelming.  All the messes I left dangling mid-air while I continued to shove and push my protagonist into her own little corner of hell on earth, need resolution.  She must get herself out of all her predicaments, realize why she ended up there to begin with, and realize whodunit.  Blech.

Here is where having perfectionist qualities are not good – especially during first drafts.  I have fought (and lost) the battle to stop editing and revising as I go along.  I’ve already killed so many darlings it’s possible there’s another fully completed novel in all of the stuff I’ve taken out.  I’m also spending a lot of time second-guessing where I’m headed, questioning the things I have planned to finish the book.  I’ve changed stuff up.  I’ve moved it around.  I’ve shoved other things to the back.  There was one part I wrote where something was taken and then discovered it had been taken all before page 65 – and then I wrote about it again – like I’d never mentioned it – on page 210.

You would think the positive review I got from my agent back in December would have given me the confidence to finish it with a bang.  That’s what I thought too – for about five seconds.  Then I just got anxious.  Anxious about keeping the next two hundred and fifty or so pages up to par with the first one hundred.   Anxious the plot was hokey.  Anxious he only liked what I had because he had no idea where I was headed with it.

I told someone the other day, my style of writing is like dumping a puzzle out on the floor.  (One of those monstrous ones that has about a thousand pieces.)  Some are face up, while the others are face down.  As we all know, finishing it means you must be able to see every aspect of the picture.  Yet, sometimes even after turning over all the pieces, it’s not uncommon to struggle to put it all together.  I want the ending to sizzle.  I don’t want to disappoint.  Mainly, I want it to be as perfect as it can be – at least in my mind.  I need to quit changing stuff until it’s done, so I’m not re-writing other parts to fix that.  If I could only stop tweaking the darn thing and just finish it.  Maybe this will work…  note to self, stop getting in the way! 

Are you guilty of this too?

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