When I notice a minor typo in an email I’ve just sent, I have to continually tell myself to let it go. When I find a typo in a social media post, I immediately edit it. These things don’t really matter, but I still want to get them right. I think about these small mistakes longer than I should, and I chastise myself for not checking twice. However, these digital mistakes pale in comparison to my quest for perfection when publishing a new book.
When organizing a new book, I agonize over every space and every font. I want the pages and words to be perfect, so that errors do not distract from what I am trying to say. I feel physical pain when I’ve fallen short of that goal, but I also feel euphoric when I feel like I’ve gotten it right. I’ll be the first to say that this is all insanity, but I delight in things don’t right, so I’ve had to accept this quirk about myself.
Recently, when working on publishing my third book, Get Free, I’ve dealt with more crushing moments of imperfection than I thought possible. (And anxiety when making changes, hoping that something else is not accidentally broken.) I thought the process of putting together this book would take one week…or three weeks at most. Instead, it’s taken almost three months and I hate to admit that I’m still tweaking pages! (I’ve just made some formatting changes and promised myself this would be the end of it…I just hope I keep to that goal!)
In this moment, I can say that perfection feels like an addiction–just a little more change and it will be okay. But I know deep within that there has to be a stopping point to the process of endless changes to move forward. Thankfully, I’ve experienced this with my previous two books, so I know that I can do it. Those books were designed to be more artistic…with centered text and lots of empty space, so there was less to worry about with margins and paragraphs. (Even still, I was crazy about spacing and centering then haha) Get Free brings unique challenges because it is more of a traditional book, with paragraphs, chapters, and a table of contents. I also made the late choice to change the font of the book, which resulted in some additional challenges within spacing/format in InDesign (software I used to layout the book).
I’m thankful for my keen eye and quest to get things right, but I’m also very aware that there is a fine line between perfection and insanity. I think of the quote, “Perfection is the enemy of greatness,” and I know deep down that sometimes we have to be brave enough to say this is wonderful and beautiful as it is…even if a line has spacing that isn’t perfect.
The challenge of any artist is knowing when to stop and let it go. There can be beauty and relatability in flaws, too. It provides subtle permission to other artists of the courage it takes to get your work out. Even if it’s not exactly right, others can overlook slight imperfections and embrace your greater work. Typos can be corrected another time…that’s what second editions are for ;)
Wishing you space to breathe through perceived mistakes as you release your art into the world. Mistakes happen, and they are correctable. What you are sharing is bigger than the small reasons that may be keeping you from doing so. Namaste.
Pictured: Cover art for my third book, Get Free: 7 Simple Steps to Free Your Mind & Live Your Dreams. Though my amazing graphic designer got me most of the way there with the cover, I had to teach myself how to use Illustrator to tweak a few things to get achieve my vision of perfection haha ;)
Note: My tweaks to the internal text today (InDesign) were formatting changes that (I felt) were needed as a result of changing the font within the book.