When this comic made the rounds on Facebook, the resonance it generated was astounding, though perhaps it shouldn’t have been.
It just happened to show up in my feed right after I sent my manuscript to my publisher. And yes, letting go was hard, especially after I found a typo in what was supposed to have been “just one more quick glance to double-check the formatting.”
How many more such typos linger in the ms? No telling.
It really took an effort of will to stop and, as Seth Godin would say, ship it.
Am I advocating slipshod work? Of course not. Editors appreciate writers who make the manuscript as good as possible before turning it in. What I’m saying is, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Perfection is a good goal, but it’s almost impossible to reach on one’s own. There is a point of diminishing return, when investing more time will not produce a significant improvement. Could I have taken another three to four days and proofread my ms again? Yes. I was not under a deadline. Would the number of errors I found be worth putting off all the other projects on my plate? No. So I shipped.
Perfectionism isn’t a problem because it does too much, it’s a problem because in trying to do too much it causes us to do nothing at all.—Dustin Wax
Shipping, in my case, meant trusting that any other typos I’ve made will be found by the copyeditor and proofreaders. It meant understanding that the strive for perfection, in publishing anyway, is a team effort.