why I’m a good editor/why I’m a bad editor

/and why I’m sinking under my workload and can’t figure out a way back up to the surface after months of trying–the root of all three is the same.

Perfectionism.

The first half of “quality control” is what we all say we’re after, and the second half is what people like me live and die for. The first half is both subjective and dependent on the scrutiny and commentary of others; the second half is exactly as perfectly attainable as any other platonic ideal (i.e. not).

I don’t know why this is a revelation. I should have figured it out a long time ago. I mean, I’m sure I have at some point, then forgot it, then figured it out again, then forgot it again, etc. It must be how I survive. I just realized, though, it’s probably going to kill me.

When I have too much to do, I make more checklists. This helps me feel like I can control, at least, WHAT in my life is out of control. And while I am pretty sure I am never going to stop making checklists–I enjoy it too damn much–I do have a feeling that I’ve entered a stage in my life where checklists are no longer the answer to 100% of Life’s Questions, and that maybe that is why I have been struggling with balancing my time, emotions, and relationships over the last six months or so.

Nevertheless, I will spend the rest of today trying to grind out the last of a weekend checklist. Some of the items on it:

-mop my kitchen floor
-find some way to shelve the books that have been accumulating on the floor by my living room window
-do the pre-overnight step of this recipe for a special Turkish pudding I’ve been meaning to try to make for 4 years now, and have finally bought the ingredients
-finish reading a crime novel for my blog read-along
-make this new recipe for dinner, since I have mozzarella, tomatoes, and quickly wilting spinach in my fridge
-spend an hour out in public somewhere–maybe sitting at the pastry shop working on a prompt for writing group. I haven’t written any fiction since August 2011, and it is making me sad and antsy

Maybe no work-work today, though.

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11 Responses to why I’m a good editor/why I’m a bad editor

  1. Briony says:

    When I was in my last semester of my masters I designed this INSANE timetable so that I would get everything done.

    The only bad thing is that occasionally I will still leave work, or wake up, and panic about what essay I’m meant to be working on. (I graduated nearly a year ago)

    • Sometimes I have nightmares that I don’t have an insane timetable, or–MUCH WORSE, since I could always just make a new one in the first instance–that some scurrilous person has DESTROYED or otherwise MESSED UP my carefully constructed timetable.

      I think we’ve talked before about how we’re opposite personality types though. ;)

  2. Eek. So much stress. But I approve of your Sunday check-list. Did you managed to cook something new or get out in public for a bit? I hope so!

  3. JES says:

    What’s that line, something like “The perfect is the enemy of the good”?

    I myself am a serial perfectionist. Which pretty much guarantees imperfection in 9 out of the 10 things I may be be juggling at a time. But I noticed that pretty much nobody notices perfection (and in fact, they may insist it’s not actually perfect — the nerve!). They do notice, though, if you consistently do pretty darned good. I suspect that most of the people around you, knowing how much you’ve got on your plate, are too intimidated by how good you are at it that they don’t even notice the odd loose end.

    • fingers crossed!

      I did notice this weekend as I was feeling a little bit down about my ability to do my job that I’ve published 6 novels already this year that have gotten starred reviews in PW–basically one a month. I don’t think I can keep that streak up but it did make me feel much better. To some degree, at least, your invisible efforts at quality control are noticed and appreciated!

  4. cindypon says:

    big hugs! (and i apologize for adding
    to your list but i swear i love you even more!)

  5. pacatrue says:

    Was noticing that A Memory of Light is released in 9 days and it made me think of you and find this blog again. I’ve also just sent a friend request but you can’t add notes anymore to friend requests so you will have no idea it’s from me. Hope all is well and that Mat succeeds mightily with Tuon (or something). pacatrue

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