There is not one thing in my life that is perfect. My hair, my clothes, my body…there is no danger of me ever being mistaken as a supermodel. Never was. I’m okay with that.The way I figure it, if everything works, nothing hurts, and I don’t scare anyone when I walk out the door–I’m good.

There is not one thing about my house that is perfect. My husband and I used rough-cut lumber sawed off our own land to build it, and that lumber wasn’t always straight. I love every imperfection because after too many years of living in parsonages–this is my house. I figure if friends and family always feel welcome here–I’m good.

There is nothing about our church that is perfect. People have messy lives. They make mistakes. Not every service is a soul-stirring event. Not every song is my favorite. But I love my church. I figure as long as we’re trying to follow Christ–we’re good.

There is nothing about my family that is perfect. I talk too much and frequently forget what I’m saying mid-sentence. My husband works too hard and has conversations with himself while other people are in the room. One son is in Afghanistan and is a Republican. Another son is passionate about pacifism and is a libertarian. The third son wisely keeps his opinions to himself until he feels something is important enough that he needs to weigh in on it. Then he will rarely, but memorably lay everyone else low. One daughter-in-law is from Canada and says “aboot” instead of “about.” She is an accountant and balances her checkbook to the last penny. Sometimes she takes pity on me and balances ours. The other daughter-in-law grew up in Texas and says “all y’all” a lot. She rarely knows the balance in her checkbook, but man, can she throw a party! My beautiful granddaughter spaces out into teenage day dreams. My grandson runs around the house shooting nerf guns and making random noises. Sunday dinner at our house when everyone is present is interesting to say the least. I figure as long as we love and support each other (and we do) we’re good.

I can deal with scuffed floors and finger prints on doors. I can deal with dishes that don’t match, towels that have faded, even a dog that digs up my flower beds. I can deal with  imperfection in every aspect of my life–except one. I polish these books of mine until the words start to lose their meaning and I’m half crazy with nerves. I don’t “send” my manuscripts to the editor as much as I mentally fling them at her. Then I duck and cover–convinced that she’s going to hate them. She never does, but I’m always surprised when she doesn’t.

And so I did something yesterday that I had never done before–I read my advanced author copy of one of my published books. The one that will be coming out April 3rd. An Uncommon Grace. Reading it was a mistake. I should never have done so. I wanted to tweak every paragraph, every sentence, every word. I was practically sick with the need to start editing yet once again. But I couldn’t. The book was already printed. People would be reading it in a few days.

Today–realizing that my book was not perfect, I fell into a deep writing depression. The gloomy weather mirrored the gloom in my soul. I couldn’t write a word. Then something interesting happened. A friend of mine sent me the first review of An Uncommon Grace that had appeared in a magazine called Romantic Times. Their reviews are pretty important. To my amazement, the reviewer loved my book. She gave me an excellent four-star rating and said wonderful things about the book and my skill as a writer.

Imagine. My imperfect story had given at least one person a lot of enjoyment. Evidently she didn’t see the things that I had been obsessing about. Or else she got so caught up in the story that she didn’t care.

Here’s the thing: I lost the joy of one entire glorious day because I had not written perfectly and despaired of ever being able to do so. I couldn’t write a word today–even though I’m on deadline for two more books.

So, as An Uncommon Grace appears on the shelves, I hope that my readers will sink into this story that I poured my heart and soul and hours of research into–even if it isn’t perfect.


2 thoughts on “The Paralysis of “Perfect”

  1. Serena, I so relate to the need to keep editing a book even once it’s in print! That’s why I can’t ever read mine once they release. I fall into a terrible slump and can’t dig myself out. We are kindred souls in many respects. I’m so thrilled about your April release – it’s such a great story:) And I wanted to tell you how very, very much I enjoyed A Promise to Love. I finished it in a windstorm a couple of weekends ago when the power went out and all I could do was read. What a HUGE blessing Ingrid and Joshua’s story was to me. I couldn’t say enough glowing things in my endorsement though I tried. Readers are going to love this story and the fascinating history behind it come September/October. Just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog/journal here – and your books!

    • We are most definitely kindred spirits, Laura. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this issue. Knowing that I’m not the only writer who can’t read her own published work without going into a slump is a great comfort. I’m totally blown away by your assessment of my next two books. To have a writer of your caliber and skill saying such great things….well, let’s just say I’ve dug out of that slump and am writing full-blast again! Thank you so much!

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