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The Fear of Judgment
Contributor
Written by
Alicia M. Smith
December 2015
Contributor
Written by
Alicia M. Smith
December 2015

Judgment is never fun. We put in the long hours. We lay our thoughts and hearts on the line, eager (and at times, less-than-eager) to drink in the responses from family, friends, and the public. But what if we don’t receive overwhelming praise? What if we don’t receive praise at all? What if our skills, concepts, creativity, and even our motives are questioned?

My non-fiction book, Common Stones, that I have been working on for the past several years was just released last week. I am beyond thrilled (and probably equally nervous/exhausted). As each milestone approached, bringing me closer and closer to publishing, my stomach, head, and heart churned in unison. 

~Maybe I should just review that chapter one more time?

~Ugh, that paragraph bugs me; I should probably send it to my editor for one last peek.

~Will the reader be able to picture that scene?  Was I too wordy?

~Did I take the wrong approach in that section? Maybe I should reconsider?

I could go on and on. But what good would it do? Absolutely nothing is perfect in this world. Not a person. Not a product. Nothing. There will always be a mistake to be found, or an opinion that could knock us off our feet. This leads me to the question:

Why beat ourselves up, relentlessly in search of a “perfection” that does not exist?

So we have our manuscripts, each being a work-of-art exposing a vulnerable portion of us for the world to see. We know it will never be perfect, at least not in the eyes of our readers. We take the leap. We put our work, our words, and our ideas in print. No more Delete or Backspace button. No eraser working it’s magic toward a quick re-write. 

At that point, we’ve done it. We crossed the finish line! We poured ourselves into a book/article/poem that we are proud of, that we hope will touch the lives of our readers. We absorb the praise, the feedback, and the less-than-stellar reviews. We strive to improve, but all the while knowing that if we’ve reached one person, we’ve done our job. 

Isn’t that the point? Using our skills and experiences to inform? To inspire? To motivate? The average reader isn’t looking for flawlessness. He/she is looking for a kernel of guidance, entertainment, or a welcomed distraction from everyday life. Perhaps page sixty-seven has a misspelled word. Perhaps chapter eight’s opener could have used a bit more description. It won’t matter—not if one reader walks away with a different perspective. A captivated mind. A drive for change. A hopeful heart. 

That one person’s life is worth it. And achieving that by sharing your voice—that’s perfection.      

“There are two kinds of perfect: The one you can never achieve, and the other,

by just being yourself.” 

Lauren King

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Comments
  • Alicia M. Smith

    That's a very good point regarding not getting hung-up on small errors from other writers as well. If we do that, we tend to miss the essence of what we're supposed to be absorbing in the article/book.  Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  • Linda Peno

    This is great advice to every writer. Anyone who hasn't felt this way isn't serious about writing. When the story takes on a life of its own you have to resist going back over it with too critical an eye. You also have to try to read the work of others without getting hung up on small errors.  

  • Alicia M. Smith

    I love both of your quotes, Roni and Vivienne; thank you so much for sharing your comments and for your kind words. Abandoning perfection is a daily battle for me but I'm up for the challenge! ;) Have a great rest of the week, ladies!

  • Roni Beth Tower

    Thank you for this.  It reminds me of the French saying below.  

    Unclear if said by Voltaire or Montesquieu - but it translates as "The Best [Perfect] is the Enemy of The Good" - 

    Inline image 1

  • Vivienne Diane Neal

    Alicia, thank you for writing this article. No matter how many times my stories are proofread or edited I will always find an error. When I find bloopers in books written by famous authors, I realize I am not alone at attempting to be so perfect. I like that saying by Lauren King. It reminds me of the Chinese proverb, “Some of the greatest masterpieces have flaws.”