So, good news: I’m not dead. Though for reasons unknown to me, my husband is convinced he is and is just dreaming this. No, I don’t know why and I’m not asking. What is a minor psychosis from my snuggle bunny?
So, cool story bro. The house was supposed to be ready for sale in early September. Only I’m a perfectionist. Look, stop laughing. I’d forgotten, okay? I’d forgotten because years — YEARS — ago I gave up on holding on until the novel was PERFECT. And as we all know, writing is the only real thing in the world. (RIGHT?) So in my head I was cured. (Cured, I tell you!)
So as one big thing was fixed, I keep seeing smaller and smaller things that jarred more and more.
I have this problem with other non-novel things. For those who don’t know, my main amusement, when I’m not er … rebuilding houses or setting the political webs on fire, is to do fillet crochet. Miles and miles and miles of it. Some intricate designs, some not, depending on the mood.
It’s my one feminine grace, and it used to be my cushion against a society that expected every woman between eight and thirty to work on her trousseau or make embellishments for the house. Of course, since I have no use for pillows, dollies or (I swear I’m not making this up. Yes in my generation!) the antimacassars other girls made, and I was never silly enough to adorn towels or kitchen towels (!) with crochet, and bedspreads SHOULD be the non-fussy kind you can flop onto with a favorite book, I mostly made curtains. Only as a kid I never finished them, just like I never finished any story longer than 40k words. The accummulation of errors would get on my nerves, and I’d abandon it.
I grew out of that, like I grew out of THE NOVEL MUST BE PERFECT. Well, kind of. So, not counting the ones tragically lost in the move from the Manitou house, I have a half dozen curtains floating around.
Now I usually make these while on long trips (as a passenger! Geesh) or in the evening, while burning spare cycles in front of whatever Dan is watching. So I often make mistakes. I’ve been known to unravel half a curtain because there’s an error way up.
Now, really, I have to break myself of this because this house needs…. 12? crochet curtains, just for privacy without blocking the light or the view issues.
The thing is, even when the error was fairly major in a curtain I made for the bathroom at the other house, NO ONE NOTICED. It glared at me, but no one noticed.
I’m sort of hoping it is the same with the things I didn’t perfect on the house, that they’re only glaring to ME.
And I need to remember that about novels, too, so I can get the things out of my head and onto the page, because I suspect that the perfectionist has crawled back into my head and is making mischief.
The thing is the last ten percent of any task takes 50% of the labor, but most people don’t notice if it’s not done. Heck, most people don’t notice anything above 80%.
How do I know this?
Because I don’t, years (or weeks, if things were done in a fugue) later. Take the cat’s bathroom (don’t ask. No. I told you not to ask.) in the new place. We ripped out the gross linoleum, but we’re not putting in the permanent stuff till we can change the appliances, which will be after the other house sells.
So in the last day I was here, on my previous stay over a day, I installed cheap peel and stick vinyl tiles (btw, those have come a long way baby.) That was a week and a half ago, but it feels like years. Anyway, I know I not only did a ton of things wrong (tired, distracted) but some glaringly wrong. When I left I was convinced it was a screaming mess. Now? Well, I can find the two places I cut it short of the tub, but that’s about it. And can be covered by a quarter round.
So, if you think you’re writing — or living — for the ages and generations yet unborn will treat your work like they do Willy Wagstaff’s, (Egg on his face. I mean he used “they” for singular, once, in his oeuvre, probably for rhythm, and now idiots are using it to justify raping the English language.), carry on.
If not, ask yourself why you’re giving yourself the trouble, and what your objective is.
Sure, fix the typos (Hey, I almost referred to my Otter House, which I assure you I don’t have.) and make sure the research is right. But after that? No one cares. And you won’t either.
Shoot the perfectionist in your head (metaphorically) and set yourself free. And productive.