Sometimes, it takes a village to write a book.
There are books that go very smoothly and are easy to write. The plot and characters, are both simpatico and the words just seem to flow. My first Christmas novella, A Christmas Bond, was like that. A handsome veteran, a lonely, troubled career woman, a wise grandma, funny, near-delinquent teens—I loved these characters. And I loved the cute plot, which involved the baby Jesus getting stolen from a lawn nativity scene—and, of course, found again. Literally and symbolically. Neatly tied up. Practically perfect!
And then there are the other books, the ones that have you tearing out your hair. My second Christmas novella, A Bond for the Holidays, was like that. Partly because the couple was married, which is weird for aromance novel. And partly because Emily, the heroine, has made a really major mistake in her life. Even though it was years ago and she had her reasons, it was still hard to write about a “fallen” heroine. This one didn’t finish up near as neatly. But when Emily and her husband stand in front of their lawn nativity, it’s a real “awwwww” moment, exactly because nothing has been, is, or will be, perfect.
Writing about a very imperfect heroine was good for me, because I’m waaaay imperfect. Most of us are, right? God has to look down at us and shake his head as we take things into our own hands and mess up, over and over.
That’s what Christianity is all about…a bunch of imperfect people saved by grace. And though writing A Bond for the Holidays wasn’t easy, I’m pleased to have stuck with the story long enough to give Emily grace and a happy ending. Maybe, because she doesn’t deserve it, she appreciates it more. It’s not well people who need a doctor, right? It’s the sick ones.
Now I’m trying to finish up a really complicated suspense story, and it’s a huge challenge. Making all the threads come together has been a group endeavor. I’ve brainstormed with a bunch of my writer friends, and I have two more scheduled to read through the whole manuscript once I get it into decent shape. Then there’s editing,and proofreading… Thank heavens! I could not figure this one out alone. The dedication page is going to be huge!
Like so many things in life, writing a book isn’t something that can be done alone, contrary to the stereotypes about lonely writers in their garrets. When I first started writing, I was so insecure that I hated talking about my work or showing it to anyone. I was so fragile that any little bit of criticism would make me put a story into my bottom drawer in shame. No wonder I didn’t get anywhere! I’m much better of a writer now, but that’s partly because I am willing to admit I’m making a hash of something and ask for help. Hey, once again, it’s to do with perfection… and how I’m not, and we’re not, perfect. But nor are we irrevocably and forever flawed.
What’s your biggest struggle with perfectionism? What helps you get over it? A random commenter will win a $5 Amazon gift card. It’s not much, but given all the wonderful $0.99 collections out there, think how many Christmas stories you could read!
And if you liked reading about Christian women and imperfection, check out my blog, Flawed. Christian. Woman. There are a whole lot of us out there!
Biggest struggle with perfectionism? Probably not trying things because of the fear of not being perfect .
Lee Tobin McClain says
That’s true! If it’s an area I don’t care about, like athletics, I’m fine with being imperfect. But if it’s a relationship or professional thing, sometimes I’d rather not try than try and fail.
Margaret Nelson says
Perfectionism takes energy, and the older I get, the less energy I have :-)
Lee Tobin McClain says
Ha, Margaret–that sounds like WISDOM to me!
Linda Herold says
“Nobody’s perfect”, right? Life is a learning experience, that’s for sure!! Liked your post!!,
Diane Adams says
It is hard to write about folks who aren’t perfect, but those are the ones readers like to read about. Every once in a while, I pick up a book where the heroine is TOO perfect and I usually put it down without finishing it. I look forward to reading A Bond for the Holidays.
Jill Weatherholt says
I’m loving all of these Christmas novellas! I have to agree with Margaret, being perfect is exhausting. Thankfully with age comes the knowledge that perfection is unattainable. Now, I just try my best, pray and see what happens. Good luck with your suspense story, Lee!
Katy C. says
It’s freeing to me to remember that only Christ can take my brokenness and make me a useful holy vessel.
I used to be much more of a perfectionist than I am now….not that I don’t still struggle! But I’ve learned that things don’t always have to be perfect & I don’t have to stress about things so much. I guess for me, perfectionism equaled people liking me, I never wanted someone to see my flaws because I wanted to be seen as a good friend & approved of in people’s eyes. I’ve learned that no matter what, there are going to be people who don’t like you no matter how hard you try. So I just be more myself, the person God created me to be. There are still times I try to be percect, but thankfully not as much! :-)
Lee Tobin McClain says
Oh, me too, Trixi… I always want to avoid conflict and have people like me, or approve of me. Still trying to learn the lesson that it ain’t always going to happen… and that’s okay.
Terrill Rosado says
I tend to get hyper-focused on a task, hobby, or job and I can let everything fall apart around me because the task at hand requires my full attention and abilities until completion. Or so my mind believes. It is quite difficult for me to find a balance.