Someone – (Monica Woods?) – said that sometimes perfectionism can be a perverse form of writer’s block. She was talking about the writer who works on a single project for years, mulling over the same material until it goes stale. She suggested that perhaps such writers are afraid of publication. They want to please everyone, or they don’t want to get rejected, or they aren’t confident. The fear clogs them up. They can’t move on, so they revise instead.
It’s an interesting notion. Some people do take a long time between books – Ann Packer’s first novel, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, was a big success, and she spent all of ten years writing it. Her second book came five years later. In an interview with The Writer magazine, she said:
“I think during the writing of Dive, I was building up my nerve, in a sense, so that the progress I made from one so-called draft to the other was probably slower progress than I made between drafts with my current novel, Songs Without Words. And that suited me just fine.”
If such fear exists, how do we deal with it? Should we even try? I sometimes wonder if those 10-year authors did so well because they took their time. Maybe the fear is a good thing in moderation.
I’ve known plenty of people who jumped the gun when it came to publication, subbing to editors during the first draft, or heading over to Lulu after their second rejection. A little fear might have done them some good.
What do you guys think? Is fear of publication always bad? At what point does it start holding you back?