On Writing,  publishing

Perfection and Writing

Some Tough Topics Tonight…

I spent most of the day today at my friend’s house, going through stuff. Two great writers and friends, Chris and Steve York also spent their evening with me, going through stuff. Our main goal was to get things ready to be donated to the women’s shelter and to other charities around town.

Thanks Chris and Steve!! They were also friends with the woman who died.

In letters today I got numbers of questions about estates and wills for writers, but I want to deal with two quick questions tonight before I vanish into bed. The questions are related, so hold on. They are both about disease.

And about writing. Sort of…

First question…What is hoarding?”

Simply put, a disease where a person feels a need to buy things and can’t toss things away or sell them. A medical person can give you the exact definition. Or you can Google it.

My mover friends are coming to my friend’s house on Thursday for at least two large truck-loads of garbage just to start. She couldn’t throw stuff away.

Now understand that I own two stores full of stuff, and a very large warehouse and a loft and part of another major room, all crammed full of stuff. Am I a hoarder? Nope. I buy everything for resale, including marbles.

And I have zero issue on tossing stuff out. In fact, I keep my mover friends here in town in good money because I am always calling them and hiring them for truck-loads of garbage to the dump.

I am an adrenaline junkie, simply put. A treasure hunter. I love the thrill of the find BECAUSE I know I can resell it and make a profit.

A treasure hunter like me has a vast amount of pretty useless information. And I love the moment when that useless information suddenly has value. That is a thrill.

Actually having two collectable stores now is almost like a dream come true for me. And if I didn’t love telling stories so much, I would be doing that 100% of my time.

So going through my friend’s stuff is at one moment sad and the next moment a treasure hunt.

My friend knew that when in her will she gave me her poker chip collection. I will keep it for a time, sort it, enjoy it, and then sell all the chips over eBay. Great fun on both sides for me.

Now let me get to the second question…

Is Not Writing and Then Not Getting The Stories Out to Readers a Form of Hoarding?

Nope. That’s just simply fear. Nothing more and nothing less.

The fear that a story must be “perfect” will stop anyone.

This is another disease. Another mental problem that is also just as real as hoarding.

This disease is called “Perfection.”

Now, for those of you suffering with this disease, there is a interesting look at the problem at:


This article treats this like a medical disease and it is sobering in a number of ways, especially when looked at through the eyes of a fiction writer wanting to learn this craft and business.

For example, the article says this:

Underdiagnosis of Perfection is frequent due to the insidious, asymptomatic nature of the disease which silently erodes quality of life. Many infected individuals manage to cope with Perfection without developing significant symptoms or signs, but remain carriers of the disease. Infection of clinicians also hiders the diagnosis and successful treatment of Perfection.

Perfection should not be confused with perfectionism. Genuinely happy people who act true to themselves do not have Perfection. It is yet unclear whether a causal relationship exists between Perfection and the absence of Happiness, or the directionality of their association.

I love the idea that the infection of clinicians hinders the treatment. You know who they are talking about in writing, don’t you? Those people who sit on panels that tell you that you must rewrite three or four times to make a story perfect.

And so on and so on…

The article goes on to say this:

Self-diagnosis, early intervention and treatment with a sustained dose of honesty can effectively cure and prevent the transmission of Perfection. Immunization is possible but its effects are usually short-lived for those who reside or work in an infected environment. Naturally acquired active immunity usually confers lifelong protection to individuals who have recovered from Perfection.

Yup… Read the entire article. It is short. But keep in mind the term… “Sustained dose of honesty…

But now, if you really want to read more about this and how this disease infects far, far more than writing, go to this blog:


Be warned, the article will mess with your mind.

The fear of failure, the fear of mailing a story, the fear that a story won’t be perfect so you have to rewrite it, is a disease, folks.

The disease of Perfection.

And as this article from Single Dad Laughing shows clearly, it is a vast and ugly disease.

Not in any medical journals anywhere, but it is real. Very real and I have fought it in my own fiction writing for years.

And in my real life.

And I have watched it kill many other wonderful writer’s careers.

Fight this disease. Be aware of it with friends and family as well.

As the article said, being real can be the cure.

And with fiction writing, being real, looking at everything with logic and math, can do wonders.



  • Patrick R

    Oh, this is interesting, and deep. And helpful. Thanks.

    Wondering, reflecting…

    Isn’t ‘perfection’ a fear….fear of the ‘gap’ between a person and the apparently ‘perfect’ object?

    And, unconstructive, negative hoarding might be a fear in or of life? Then, a safety buffer is wanted – lots of ‘just in-case’, might-needs, could-be-usefuls, that seemingly could be called upon…but almost never is. The buffer fills a ‘gap’ of unreadiness to ‘be’ out there, running lean and light in life, running with what’s learned and able and possible, now?

    Gaps. Chasms. Cutting off from…being real?

    Thanks for those links, Dean. Thanks for your take – and seeing from a long-time writer’s perspective, someone who is having fun, and yet has wrestled with stuff, as you note. Appreciated.

    Lots there.



  • Patrick R

    Hi Dean

    A further reflection…

    That fear thing is even more a cause – a point of view – than I’d figured. How? For some weeks now (well, with a few gentle months of run up) my eldest’s school has had to figure out which options to choose for further study towards first qualifications. Thing is, he likes them all, finds expressions and growth through each. Every one. But some must go. The system says so, eve though this is a critical growth juncture across the board.

    So the perspective – the mind – that comes to be generated (if we are not careful) what to choose, yes, but also what not to make a ‘mistake’ for future prospects by choosing. This is a process of shutting down that is supposed to lead to growth.

    Then, in a couple of years, for the next set there will be further winnowing. All to keep options open in ‘best’ way, not to screw up, because no one is allowed to parachute in again in a later school year to fast-track a subject to exam. Oh, no.

    Get it ‘right’. Not ‘wrong’. Keep options open. Hoard the ‘right’ subjects, not ‘wrong’. Seems so much like fear.

    Yet if he had the chance to keep growing across the board that would be a different mind-set, one of engaging and grabbing and running and having fun…until it is not. Excellence through ‘treasure hunting’ fun. Exams then when ready.

    A whole different mindset. Not fear. About being real.

    So, there’s me seeing the other side of this puzzle. So interesting. So much in this.

    Again, thanks.