Monday, May 31, 2010

Painting and musing

Due to a dark and wet day, I've had to shift to plan B for my long holiday weekend tasks. That means I'm back to painting walls.

As I'm painting away, my mind wanders--which it likes to do when I'm in the midst of mindless tasks. It wanders to Anne Mini's blog posts of this past week regarding the perils of the Frankenstein manuscript. You know, that masterpiece you've revised twenty times in various stages over weeks/months/years.

I have one of those. I've been over it countless times since the final major overhaul. I've read from beginning to end. Critique partners have been over it from beginning to end. I've read it outloud. I've done a find/replace hunt on all my character's names that have changed spellings to make sure they are consistant. I've double checked all my spacings, my punctuation, use of italics, and formatting. Everything should be perfect, right?

I've painted my wall. I wiped it down, filled the holes, mixed the paint, put down my dropcloth, cut in all the edges with perfectly straight lines, and applied the rest with a roller ever so carefully. It should be perfect right?

Yet, why is it that when company comes over, I notice the spots I missed? That line I cut in at the ceiling wavers all over the place! How did I manage to paint over a long hair and embed it in my wall (and by the way, pulling the hair out only makes the mess far more obvious.) And I swear I used the same roller and the same paint, but the color from the beginning of the wall to the other side is uneven!

The heart of the analogy is:
A. Don't invite company over.
B. Don't paint your novel.
C. Pay attention to what you're painting instead of mulling over blog posts and your wall might turn out better.
D. Your novel will never be perfectly perfect, but make sure the color is even and the lines are straight before inviting company to look at it.

(For the record, I'm finally happy with my novel and fairly secure that I've got all my bases covered with this particular frankenstein. Not to say I don't have niggling doubts. Which is where this musing analogy stems from.)


  1. Oh, Jean. I know just how you feel and it's so frustrating sometimes that a little voice tells me to give up. Why can I never catch my own mistakes no matter how hard I look? Why am I such a terrible writer/painter? *sigh* I know how you feel.

  2. I can offer another parallel from the world of software development. You write the program, you desk-check it, test it, flush out the bugs, polish it up, hand it over to fellow developers and end users to try to break it. It all looks good.

    The first day it goes into production someone will manage to break it in a way that everyone will say "how the heck did we miss that?"

    I think you've stumbled on a universal law here, Jean. About as much use arguing with as gravity. Best to accept it, grit your teeth, and be ready for the inevitable. And don't let it get you down.


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