Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Letting Go

One of the hardest parts about writing professionally; that is, writing in the corporate world, is letting go of things you know you could do better if you just had more time.

Deadlines come hard and fast. You often don’t have enough information to work with (and sometimes you’re just making up filler with no information at all), and you have to just do your best and get it out the door.

Fiction can feel like this sometimes, too (if only I held onto this book for another 5 years, it would be PERFECT because in 5 years I’ll be BRILLIANTER!), but the last couple of books I’ve worked on, I feel I’ve made them very nearly the best they could be, at the time, with what I had to work with and what my brain would actually parse and digest (GW gets better over time with more input and of course, there are so many months between edits that I tend to improve between drafts, but each time I finish it, I nearly always feel it’s the best I could do with what I had).

Corp writing has been more and less frustrating. More because, wow, you want everything you write to sparkle, but less because this isn’t your baby, your passion, your book. At the same time, I get off on taking crap and making it all make sense. I enjoy written communication; I fall in love with words. Reading can make for great foreplay (so can writing, for that matter), and good prose is terribly sexy.

But I know that I’m getting paid to produce something smart and legible on time to deadline, and Really Great whenever I possibly can. You do the best you can with what you’ve got, and move on and don’t dwell on it. You’re getting paid to produce, not to fall in love. You’re getting paid for product, not for passion.

But I confess that I often just can’t help slugging around a bit of both.

1 comments so far. Got something to say?

jeff said...

What timing: Last night I finally went home after working on a document all day, knowing I had to give it up to my boss to take to a training meeting with him--knowing that the document needed more work, despite his saying over and over again that this is just a draft and the like. It's hard to do. I don't have much of a perfectionist streak, but what I do have is similar to what you describe here. Thanks for the post.