Sunday 27 September 2015

Perfection Isn't Necessary: Why Your Story Needs to Be Published #ChaBooChaLite

My daughter's book: Dark Unicorn
I have a confession to make. I have written over six full length novels, but only the first drafts. I have written over 36 picture books, completing the revisions and editing on six of them already, but have never sent any of them out to publishers. I have written three full first drafts of chapter books, but not completed the editing on them (and I'm writing another one now).

Why am I continuing to write without continuing to edit and revise? Why am I not sending out anything to publishers or self-publishing my novels? What is holding me back?

Perfection is what holds me back, or, more accurately, the desire to attain perfection. I am so worried about my stories not being good enough that I play it safe. If I never put my stories out there, no one can ever tell me how badly written they think they are, right? It's a fear that keeps me from finishing them; it keeps me from ever putting my work out there for the world to read and judge.

I admit that I do have short stories out in several anthologies, some published by my own indie publishing company and some by others. But I think what makes it easier is that I know that whether or not someone likes a story is, in part, subjective. And in an anthology, there are a lot of stories written not just by me but by others as well. A reader will like some stories more than others and that's okay. That's normal. So I feel like I'm achieving something with my writing without having to fully put myself out there.

Why am I confessing this now? Because I think, if some of you are finding yourselves doing the same thing, then maybe finding out you are not the only ones might help. Also, I've recently given myself a kick up the pants to FINISH my editing and revising and to get some of my work published - on its own.

The kick up the pants that I needed has to do with the book I published for my nine year old daughter (she's ten now). It's called "Dark Unicorn," and, although it is a sweet story, for those of us who are used to looking at books critically, it is easy to tell that the story was written by a child. But the story is written for children, not for editors or parents or even other writers. And I published her book for her because I wanted her to have confidence in her writing, and I knew it was written well enough, with enough of a story, that children would enjoy it.

And you know what? They do.

Here's a recent post I made to my Facebook profile:

"There's a sweet little girl at Cameron's school who always wants to hold my hand when we're walking to the other children's school. Her grandma picks her up from school.
A couple of days ago, I gave her a copy of Isabella's book "Dark Unicorn." Her first words when she saw it were, "I LOVE unicorns!"
Today, I ran into her and her grandma again. She immediately said, "I don't know where my book is!" Her grandma said, "Yes, you do. It's at home on the couch." 
Then her grandma told me how much she loves the book. It's become her favourite book and she's read it dozens of times already, carrying it around with her everywhere in the house. 
So this very sweet little girl then said, "It's TEN WHOLE CHAPTERS! And I read it all by myself!" 
I can't wait to tell Isabella. She will be so pleased to hear how much this little six year old loves her book."

My nine year old daughter's book is another child's FAVOURITE book! Even if that is the only child who finds this book the best story ever, that's enough. That's why we write.

Your story doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to touch someone's emotions or even just give them some momentary pleasure while they read it. In all honesty, you can write the world's best book, and it still won't be perfect. Perfection is an illusion. And, as long as you write the best book you are capable of writing, whether or not someone else will love your book is completely subjective; everyone's tastes differ.

But if you never get your story out there, if you keep it hidden in a drawer, unfinished, you will never reach anyone with your story. Somewhere there is one child, a little girl or a little boy, who is waiting for your book, who will love your book and carry it around with them and read it over and over just for the pleasure of it.

So don't just write your book - finish it!

My other daughter's book, "Grabbed by the Shadows"
Today's prize is in keeping with today's topic. Comment on this post and your name will be put into a drawing. If you win, I will create an e-book cover for you. but there's a catch - it has to be an e-book cover for a short story you've written, something over 2,000 words. It doesn't have to be for children; it can be a short story for adults. And you have to be willing to publish your short story to Kindle through KDP. You can use the cover for your story. (If you don't know how to publish through KDP, we can chat and I'll show you how.)


  1. Thanks for sharing, Becky. I have the opposite issue - I hate writing first drafts. But I can edited and/or rewrite a story zillions of times. Maybe we should make an October deal - I will write the first draft of chapter book 3. And you edit one of your chapter books. What do you think? :)

  2. Thanks for sharing. I also suffer with wanting things to be perfect.... but then decide not to continue because it all seems to hard. I know having a deadline, like for anthologies, helps me to say "That'll do" and send it off.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I used to be like that Becky, and I still aim for perfection. there comes a time though when you just have to get the story out there. Some people will love it and there will always be someone who picks it to death. I just focus on the positives - my books are as perfect as I can get them and I am proud of how they turned out.

  4. Thank you for posting this Becky! It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in wanting to get my manuscripts as perfect as I can before submitting them. I believe it was Jane Yolen who said to wait until you have a backlog of manuscripts to keep 12 of them in circulation at the same time.I think I now have more than enough!

    I have been writing for a long time and have, at last count, 226 manuscripts (30 are finished and have been critiqued many, many times,100 are very rough drafts, and 96 are ideas that have been sketched out) and I only started submitting 3 years ago thanks to being a 12 x 12 Gold Member.

  5. It's so hard to deal with feelings of rejection, criticism, judgment, etc... I know often times I tend to keep my writing to myself for fear of these emotions. I agree about the's a starting point for a lot of us and a great one at that! It's the first time I put my work out there for the world to see besides family and friends. Like you said, some will love it, some won't but it gave us a sense of accomplishment and excitement that we have published works! Thanks for all you do Becky....great post!