Imperfection: a novel

Yesterday, I clicked a button and just like that I was assigned an ISBN and an ISBN-13 for my book.

As I get closer and closer to publication, I’ve been getting more anxious about the reality of it. About knowing people will read – and judge – my work. And judge me. Honestly, it scares me, makes me feel vulnerable and nauseated.

I have all these fears. Will people think it’s an autobiographical book or that I wish it were? (It’s not and I don’t.) Will people think it’s crap? (That’s for each person to decide, I guess.) Will people wonder WTF I was thinking when I decided this book was ready for publication? Doesn’t Pam know that first novels are not meant to be published? That authors are supposed to sweat and anguish and then put the fruits of their first labors high on a shelf in a back closet, never to be seen again? That we are not supposed to foist our initial efforts onto the world? That if my novel were worthy, an agent would have accepted it – and me?

As you know if you’ve been following me, because I’ve posted this talk about a million times, not too long ago I came across Brene Brown‘s brilliant TED talk on vulnerability. In it, she says about children: “They’re hard wired for struggle when they get here. When you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, ‘Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is to keep her perfect, make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.’ That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, ‘You know what, you’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.’ That’s our job.”

That’s how I feel about my book. It’s imperfect, but it’s worthy of being out in the world. It may not solve world peace (Okay, it won’t solve world peace. For sure.). It may not get a prize. It may not get critical acclaim. But those things are not its role in this world. Its role is simply to be a fun, light book that I hope people enjoy.

I’ve spent far too much of my life worrying about not being good enough. The fact that I’m writing this post means that I obviously am still not over it – I still feel the need to justify myself and my imperfections, to let you know that I know the book isn’t perfect and I agree and you don’t have to tell me. But I’m putting the work out there, imperfect as it may be, regardless of whether it’s good enough, and that’s a start.

And to my wee book, being born unto the world: You are imperfect, but you are worthy, and I love you.

4 thoughts on “Imperfection: a novel”

  1. Hey PS! Last night at dinner I was talking to my friend Bill about the idea of perfection in the arts. He’s a spectacular dancer/choreographer but he didn’t invite anyone to his recent show as he felt it wasn’t “perfect.” Naturally the piece got rave reviews, the audiences went crazy, but Bill didn’t have anyone to share it with. I completely understand his motivations – I frequently perform without telling folks because I want the show to be perfect before I ask my friends to spend their valuable time and money on seeing me. The irony is ART IS SUBJECTIVE. There is no perfection. And the idea that i’m the arbiter (sp? remember I’m a bad speller) of good taste is not only ridiculous but arrogant. The number of “imperfect” things I’ve seen is staggering – but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t moved/provoked/challenged/humbled/inspired by parts of the pieces. Sometimes imperfect art has helped me to redefine myself as an artist. So good for you – put your book out in the world. I applaud your bravery, your tenacity and your heart!

  2. Aw BW! Thank you for that!! It’s so strange, people have the book now and are reading it. I can feel a part of my attention span out in the world with each copy of my book, anxiously awaiting approval. But if the best thing my book does is teach people that it’s okay to share ourselves even if we’re not perfect, then that is not such a bad thing! xxxxxx

  3. A great post Pam. Congrats on your book. Imperfect or not, you have accomplished what many have not; you finished it. Complete imperfection works out much better than potential perfection that never gets out into the world.
    I struggle a ton with the imperfection and feeling not good enough. I have been trying to remember to compare myself to the tons of people that don’t have the skills instead of the few that are so far beyond me. The next step is somehow to not compare at all. That is where i’d like to get. Where the question of imperfect vs perfect doesn’t even come up; things are just good.

  4. Andrew – your comment reminds me of a quote I see all the time in the writing world: “The worst stuff you’ve ever written is better than the best stuff you haven’t.” Point being, basically, you get credit just for showing up. I could be a bestseller in my mind but I can never be one in the real world if I don’t at least try! I like your goal of not comparing – just getting to a place where there’s no judgment. What was that Hamlet quote – “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The blessing of being human: The ability to think. The curse: The ability to overthink!

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