Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It is okay not to be perfect…

Or was it that it is only okay to be perfect? Sometimes I’m just not sure anymore.
On that note, what the hell is perfection anyway? Whose level of perfect are we each trying to meet anyway?
When I was in the second grade something was said to me that stuck with me forever. Though I do not remember the teacher’s name, I remember his face as he said these words to our music class, “Practice makes Prompt! No one person can be perfect, no matter how hard they try. If you want perfect, you will only find it in the eyes of God Himself.” Even at 7 or 8 years old I understood this. Not in an - ah, shit, I will never be perfect at anything; way. No, in more of a, flaws will be in everyone, and I need to remember my own when I see one in others, kind of way.
I know my flaws; I work very hard to become PROMPT at everything I do… though that does not mean that I do not fall short from time to time. Okay, more than from time to time.
Tempting Fate went through edit after edit, years of them, not just for the story and how it developed. I would go over it and see that I had typed dose, not does (better read through and check them all!) Damn! Now I found that quiet has been typed quite (Better check for that one everywhere!) Double Damn! Now I have found that more than one comma should have been a semicolon! (Hmm, I better double check on how it is used and then go through it again!) ECT, you get the idea. Then, JACKPOT, I scored and reconnected with an old friend that went to school to be an english teacher who offered to do edits!!
I was on cloud nine the day I finished with her edits and knew that I WAS going to be a self-published author! I hit publish and did my little happy dance. I was going to be selling books left and right, 3 or 4 five star reviews were going to come in everyday! I was going to be a NYT Bestseller in a month! (Yes, I really thought it was that easy! HA!) I ordered print copies without even looking at a proof, because… it was perfect right? Insert another HA here!
A friend grabbed it within moments of it being published and devoured the book in just a few days. I could not wait to hear what they had to say! They loved it… BUT (Damn, don’t you just hate that word! It never seems to be followed up by something good!!!)  There were A LOT of typos in it! I was thinking, okay, this can be fixed; a lot can’t mean more than 20 in the whole book right? (Turns out that would be considered A FEW typos).
Is it still fixable? Yes! BUT (there is that word again), I have already sent out more than 20 copies to reviews! OH NO! They are all going to see it! Those thoughts of being on the Bestseller list with the likes of Nicholas Sparks went up in flames. Burned out in 2.5 seconds flat.
FAIL! You lose, nice try, delete the book from everything and go hide in a cave in some warm place where you can live off the fruit of near by trees! No, calm down, my brain said. Make the changes, upload the new version, and for the love of all things holy woman – PRAY!! I got a few “nitpicky” friends to help me out; it was all going to be fine.
Then the day arrived, my big box came full of 50 copies of TF. I knew they were going to contain the typos; I had already come to terms with that. My hands were shaking as I opened that box and pushed aside the crumbled up paper covering them at the top. Wait, this can’t be right! Its grainy, and, it didn’t POP out and eat my face the way some covers do. It looked perfect on line, what could have gone wrong!! I was still happy, I still felt accomplished – kind of anyway. I smiled as I showed my friends and family what I had done. But… with every smile I only had two thoughts in my mind. One – please don’t comment on this mediocre covered, typo filled, TRY at being an Author. Two – smile your brightest Bia! Maybe they will not notice the typos! (Of course that would involved them actually reading the book. Maybe they will stick it on their shelf with pride and never crack it open and see them at all. Maybe they will DL the better-edited digital version and keep that paperback spine looking perfect for years!)
A few reviews came in, not a soul said anything about typos or grammar! I was feeling better about the whole thing. I was happy, but the dream of that NYT Bestseller list never came back. And, at some point I got a case of the F-its. I stopped pressing the book, stopped looking for new reviews. I even stopped writing all together. Months flew by before I heard the voice of Sarah from Love on a Killer Cruise invading my brain day and night. (She would not shut up, much like my dear Abby wouldn’t.) She had a story to tell and I was her freaking vessel, yeah! I had to get it down on paper; I had no other way to shut her up! I wrote for hours at a time, shaking the cramp out of my hand when I couldn’t take it anymore and then going back at it again.
I was back in the game and this time I was going to put out that piece of perfection that I had expected from TF. Redemption was in my future!  I was a little older, a little wiser, and had learned a lot more about what I needed to do at this point.
I read blog after blog from many authors about what makes a book perfect and what I needed to do to be better… to be PERFECT. Then I read some of their books, and read reviews of the books as well. But, wait a minuet, I read your blog… you said that there was no room for typos in this day and age. With self-pubed authors flooding the market you had to be PERFECT to not get mixed in the crap novels that every Joe Shmoe puts out there! But… you had a few typos in your work…???
You have given me the wise advise of paying top dollar for an editor, (which, sorry I can’t afford!) but you didn’t get one. Whose PERFECT am I supposed to be meeting here? (I will not even get into the little tricks of the trade, which are nothing but lies and cheats, that I found out some use to keep themselves out of that pool with the Joe Shmoes.)
Nobody said things about the typos that I had spotted in their books in reviews. Maybe I got a case of the F-its for no reason. We are all human after all. I felt more hope, my dreams seemed like they might not be out of reach after all!!
THEN I find typos in the digital books of Authors that have BIG house publishers behind them. (Maybe the conversion process is not perfect?) These big names are not running and hiding in that cave I was going to go look for… hmm. They were still at it, some of them pumping out books at the rate of 2 or 3 a year!
What was I missing? What did I seem to somehow forget?
I forgot that shit happens! I forgot that there is no such thing as perfection; it is learning to be prompt! It is about constantly learning from any and all mistakes that you make! Everyday you will see a flaw, not a fail, a flaw. Something that you must work to over come and become more prompt at! There are some flaws that it will taks years to correct, and some that you can change over night.
Am I still learning? Yes, after delay, delay, delay. I got overzealous with LoaKC.
I got an editor for this book, I lucked out – they were going to do this book for free! I edited, and edited, and edited. I made a list of every flaw my writing had so that I knew what to keep those eyes trained for. With Painless Grammar, and Grammar for Dummies and three other books spread out around me I locked myself away in “Writer Purgatory” and let my house get dirty around me! (You want clean clothing? I will do one load, pick what is important for me to wash or figure out how to use the machine yourself!)
I sent that book off in three parts, and waited, and waited, and waited… and… Maybe I forgot to give them a deadline? No, I did that… they said it would be done. Hmmm. Let me just remind them of the deadline.
Not a problem, I will have it in plenty of time!!! Thank you Lord! I’ve going to have it this time; here was go! Dust off that shelf because Mommy is going to fill it with awards!!
Cover is done, professional and PERFECT this time! (The editor even signed off on the blurb for the back!) Boom, cover release. Boom, planned a book tour. (By myself, not easy by the way!) Boom, plan and pump that release party. Make some games, order that swag! Girl this time you are on top of the world! You are going to knock this one out of the park!!
Release date in just over a week… I don’t have edits!? That's okay, there is still time!
Release date in 4 days… I don’t have edits!? Breath lady, there is still time. Just pull a couple all-nighters.
Ummm, I was going to release this book tomorrow… I DON’T HAVE EDITS!!! Now you may panic!!
My emotions went off the charts! One minute I had to keep busy and started washing down the walls, the next minute I was in my bed crying. There is no book, no finished product. No PERFECTION!!! I lost, fail. My book was finally a book that was anticipated, people were waiting to read it. I was going to have NOTHING to give them!!
My sweet husband, who was as calming as a Xanax, talked me out of looking for that cave again and I went ahead with the release party. It was a blast! I even got my wonderful sister in law to “DJ” songs from my personal play list! I let everyone know that there had been a snag in editing and LoaKC was not ready. They understood and told me that it sucks but they were sure it was going to be fine. It seemed like everything was going to be okay! I had been promised the book within two more weeks at the most… and it was going to happen right, cause why would it not this time… (Everyone roll your eyes with me here.)
Fast-forward a month and a half… I still have no PERFECT book. The masses have moved on. Other books from other authors have come out and boomed over this book that looked great but never came out. LoaKC was quickly forgotten. And I had an Author Fair coming up…. I needed that damn book!!!!
Solution… mentally flip off the editor and moved on. I got 7 beta readers that I knew would have the sharp sight I needed to help nitpick that book to PERFECTION! I sent it out to them, got their notes back and fixed everything they found!!
BOOM! I was gold. I could not afford to have another release party; hell I still had packages from the last one to send out! But I was going to hit publish and pump that book like a drug dealer pumps crack! Did I think it would have typos? Sure did, but that was just fine, at this point it had to be better than TF was that first trip out into the world! (And I knew the cover was PERFECT!)
Hit publish, order the print copies and pray they come before the Author Fair!
This time when the book came, I was beyond excited! Not only was the cover PERFECT but the copies of TF were PERFECT as well. I cried as I looked at them, my heart swelled as I looked at the two books that were as precious as the first time I held my children in my arms. I could NOT wait to shove them in my husbands hands the minute he walked into the door. I was going to make him so damn proud of me, he just might cry too!! (lol, not really, then again you never know)
He was proud; they looked beautiful. He was going to make me dinner and I was going to sit back with a glass of wine at just stare at the PERFECTION. Take note self-publishing world, I will conquer you!!! A little while later I see him smiling as he looks at LoaKC and then he flips it over to read the back. What could be happier that making my husband proud of me? Nothing, absolutely nothing!!
Then his smile faded… my heart dropped. I wanted to know what he saw. He just smiled and told me how wonderful it all was; he was so happy for me. Faster than lightening I flip it over and carefully read through each word. Praying there was nothing wrong. BOOM – if it were a snake, as they say, it would have jumped out and bit me! There, glaring in my face, was a typo! Right on the damn cover! It didn’t say DEFINITELY it says defiantly. I let out a string of curse words that would have made a trucker drop his jaw. How did I MISS THIS!?!? HOW DID THE EDITOR MISS THIS!?!? It was the only thing they DID give me feed back on!!
A few days later I gave in and flipped through the book. There are typos, many typos. Well hell, looks like I am not PERFECT. 

So, there you have it. I have flaws, I am not perfect… and I am okay with it. Yes I will have to have the full cover remade and re-upload it on Creatspace. Yes, I will have to get some more edits on LoaKC and upload new versions of that. Its okay, I will learn to slow down. I will practice this craft that I love, and I will become prompt.

And some day, there will be an award on my shelf… or maybe a framed letter from Jude Deveraux telling me that she found one of my books absolutely delightful! (Now that would be awesome!!) I am not going to give up and go find that tropical cave (though a tropical vacation would sure be great!). I will keep going, and working hard, and never give up on being a better version of myself as an Author.
There are more than likely errors in this post, point them out if you feel the need to… it is okay with me! I am not going to let it break me down; I will use it to help me learn to be more prompt!

I hope that you are enjoying whatever book you have picked up; I hope that if you see a “flaw” you take a moment to remember that it is just that, and I hope that it does not ruin the whole story for you. 

The still not so prompt Author

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