I was reminded of something today, in terms of challenging myself. It was an email about the dangers in leaving something imperfect alone, in the thought that it’s ‘good enough’. One of the things I admire about my favourite writers is that they never dismiss an issue, never give up when something could be improved. This is something I need to keep reminding myself, as it would be so easy to let some things slide. There are moments in things I write where a line doesn’t quite work, and it jars the reader out of the experience. It’s only a few words, so it’s tempting to move on, particularly as a fix will often take a while to coax out of hiding. But that’s the difference between a 95% and 99% level of polish – a kind of ruthless streak which, hitherto, I haven’t had. I’m only just starting to learn that going the extra mile is not only desirable, but required if you want to be taken seriously.
So I’m being challenged on points of logic and continuity and various other finickity stuff that I really don’t want to be answering but have to. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, of course – that this novel is getting better and better and better, but boy is it hard work. I keep worrying that I’m running up against and beyond the limit of my current abilities, but the desire to reach for the sky is beyond compelling. Now that my de facto editor is enticing me to justify every single contentious decision I’ve made in the narrative, what ended its first draft as a nicely serviceable page-turner is becoming something a mite more meaty. I like that.