Perfection is the enemy of living
Holding my book for the first time. Image owned by author.
According to writer Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.”
My wife refuses to believe this statistic.
Further research on the topic (okay, one Google search) indicated that only 3% of aspiring authors finish a manuscript and only 20% of that small group of finishers actually publishes a book.
It’s a daunting task, writing a book. There are hundreds of potholes that can prevent someone from starting, never mind finishing a first draft. Finding the time to write, fear of failure, proper motivation — knowing the why behind the book.
But ultimately, it’s likely the pursuit of perfection that holds us back. We want each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter to perfectly capture the fascinating story that exists within our minds.
By the time my dad’s Alzheimer’s began to take over his life for good, in 2018, I knew the time had come to pursue my dream of writing a book. The impetus for writing the book was awful, cruel, and unfair — anything but perfect — but it was right there in front of me, staring me down.
My dad and his story were slowly dying, and yet, I felt as if mine were only just beginning. My ADHD brain allowed me to go all-in on the project.
I joined Medium in 2021 to hone my skills and build writing muscles. I published a few articles early on but found it harder than it should have been to publish more. Too many tips, hacks, and pressure to build my audience, get paid for my writing, and publish quality articles.
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
Perfection prevented me from just writing.
I joined a Self-Publishing School because I’m a firm believer in accountability and investing in yourself. The course materials themselves were designed for people who weren’t comfortable writing and needed handholding throughout the entire process, but the one-on-one coaching was invaluable.
The first draft took eight months and was garbage, but I persevered. Visiting my dad each day only fueled my passion and purpose. I so wanted to finish the book before Alzheimer’s finished him.
The editing process was a joy — an inside joke for aspiring and accomplished authors alike — but I refused to allow perfection to grind things to a halt. It can always be better, even after the professional editor’s changes, highlights, and comments crisscross your document.
Imposter syndrome reared its ugly head often. Who cares about my story? Why would anyone want to read it? What if it’s terrible?
I didn’t publish the book before my dad died from Alzheimer’s on August 3, 2021, but I did publish it, eight months later.
On Sunday, March 13, 2022 — the day I turned 50 — I fulfilled a lifelong dream and published Ten Days With Dad: Finding Purpose, Passion, & Peace During The Darkest Days Of Alzheimer’s And COVID-19.
We were in Washington, D.C. that weekend to watch the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship. My son is a manager for the Richmond Spiders, and all weekend, they had battled and spun their way to the finals. They won!
It was a glorious day — I turned fifty, the Spiders were on their way to the NCAA Tournament, and oh yea, I published a book!
You might even say it was a perfect day.
Image owned by author
At the moment, perfection is trying to hold me back from completing the audio book for Ten Days With Dad. I refuse to let it.
Don’t let the illusion and allure of perfection hold you back from doing what you love to do — or want to do. Our time on this bus ride of life is shorter than we realize. Don’t wait for a life-altering event to change your attitude, mindset, and behaviors. Say no to perfection and yes to living your life.
And always remember it’s never too late — or early — to pursue your passions.