Delusions of Perfection


So often when our manuscripts are critiqued, we’re told that chapter two, or three, or maybe five, makes a better chapter one. But, seriously, the fourteenth chapter?

I read a quote, and wish I could remember who to credit it to, that said you don’t really know your beginning until you’ve written the ending. That may be true, but I’d written the ending to Alex Bullied and regarded my beginning as pretty solid.

In fact, I thought Alex Bullied was pretty near perfect. The story rolls along nicely, the characters are well-drawn, and the voice is entertaining. All I needed to do was persevere until I’d found the perfect agent. Or so I thought. Obviously, I had delusions of perfection.

Imagining that we are writing the Next Great American Novel keeps us going. We have to believe that our wrtiing is worth something. We have visions of agent and publisher contracts, book tours, movie sales, fame and fortune. Those are different kinds of delusions. Maybe we need those.

Then we finish. Or think we’ve finished. That would be the delusion of completion.

That is why critique groups and honest beta readers are so valuable. It’s difficult for most writers to achieve distance from their work. it’s hard not to have all sorts of delusions. Hearing that my fourteenth chapter should be my first was a blow. But they were right. Their enthusiasm at finding my diamond, my vein of gold, enthused me. I made the change. The story has a better start.

I think.

With this rewritten first chapter, I’ve submitted the first fifteen pages and one page synopsis for agents to critique for a writers’ retreat through the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. So I’ll see what they have to say. Stay tuned.

I asked my Friday group, The North County Writers Bloc, to tell me what their writing delusions are and I think you’ll get a chuckle. How many of these are yours, too?

It takes only one draft to complete a book.

It’s easy to find an agent.

Length of the book doesn’t matter.

I can do all of the proof reading necessary myself.

Make money.

That someone, anyone, will actually enjoy my book.