Seeking Perfection? Don't. The Mistakes are More Valuable.
The last two weeks I've been consumed with getting my first novel-length book ready for launch, and wow has it been stressful. There's so much that goes into getting a book ready, from your own last-minute edits (and the extra time you put into praying that you haven't missed TOO many typos) to setting up the paperback version online. And I've started to think of my indie work very much like a business, so those things--edits, proofreading, preparing the ebook, preparing the PDF for the paperback, covers for both--are only really the "production" side of this business. Then you have the sales and marketing side, which means getting advance reader copies out, sending a pre-order update to your subscribers, figuring out where to advertise your book for the week of launch, etc.
In an ideal world, I have a whole team of people helping me with this. We run like a machine. I have an ebook expert, a graphic designer, a social media manager, multiple cover designers, and I never pull an all-nighter like a college kid because I can't figure out how to get my damn cover to resize right in my ebook and my drop caps look weird. Alas, I am still aspiring to reach those ideals, and I think it's going to be a while. There are just so many fun new mistakes waiting to be made all the time. Like last night, when I realized that my pre-order announcement campaign--which was supposed to be going out by time zone to subscribers at 14:15--had gone out at 2:15 in the morning instead.
Oh, wait, jokes on me! Those emails went out at 2:15am MY time. Which was 2:15pm someone else's time. They AREN'T going out at the wrong time after all! Yay! Now I can watch out for the next fun surprise to get to me.
I had a particularly impressive mistake occur this week while I was doing all this, too. It came to my attention yesterday that the license I purchased to use the images in my logo isn't good enough for the images to be in a logo. Not only that, but the "enhanced" licences aren't good enough either! Nope. Didn't even matter that the overall design and arrangement/alteration of the vectors was all me. If I want a trademark that I own the copyright to, that logo has to contain unique images that only I own the copyright to. Which, you know, makes sense when you think about it. But I loved my old logo so so much. I was heartbroken to have to get rid of it!
Also, it took me HOURS to create vectors that I made from scratch to use in my logo design. Hours. More lost sleep. But I have to tell you, as much as I would have liked to use that logo I initially thought was so perfect, there was something really special about making my own vectors, especially given what my logo symbolizes. Because to do it, I decided not to try to create the silhouette of some random woman, but to do something that was more symbolic of me personally.
To do that, I traced photos I had of my hair curled, my shoulder in a sleeveless dress, and my arm bent with my hand on my hip. I drew my nose and my chin in the profile. I made those hips significantly wider than the hips in the vector I'd used previously because it occurred to me that my original vector featured a woman that was pretty unrealistically shaped. The new logo now features a woman who, honestly, looks a bit plumper than the other and doesn't seem quite as a dainty. I suppose the part of me that grew up reading Cosmo feels a bit sad about that, but the part of me that aspires to be a feminist is really pleased with a slightly more realistic shape. Oh, and I drew my own birds! So they don't look as nice as the freepik vectors--and they are plumper too--but I really like my healthy little birdies. (And I swear to you, the hair was easier than the birds.)
Here's the crazy thing: even though I thought that original logo was perfect, when I look at the two designs side-by-side now, I like what I created on my own better. I think in my attempt to create a more "realistic" and therefore less "perfect" silhouette of a woman, I actually gave myself something that's cooler than I had before. This one has more sass and more power and more me. Now I'm looking back at what I thought was perfect in the original and saying to myself, "what's with the hand all held back like that? Was she afraid of something?" and "really seriously, I have never been the size of that woman in my life, ever, and even if I managed that size 2, I'd still have bigger hips than that," and "why the birds?"
Though I suppose I still have the question about the birds and that the answer to is still just, "they make me happy." But you know what? Since I drew them, I think I'm going to name the three birdies in my new logo right now. I shall call them Resilience (for the little guy out in front), Determination (little bird near the bottom), and Joy (the one with his wings spread nice and wide on top). And that goes right to the point of this blog, doesn't it? I would never have named the three perfect vector birds. They weren't really mine. But Resilience, Determination, and Joy are mine, and so I feel totally good about naming them.
And to bring it back to the beginning: I wouldn't have my new, cool, sassy, all-Weslie logo if I hadn't made a mistake with the first logo. I learned from that, and ended up with something I like even more.
I don't know if you're like me, but I spend a lot of my life trying to figure out how to make things perfect, and more often than I'd like, I find myself talking down to me when I make a mistake. It's kind of rare that I step back and look at how far my own mistakes have taken me and how awesome it is that I was imperfect enough to make those mistakes to begin with. If I'm honest with myself, everything I am good at today is something that I was originally absolutely awful at. I get cooler by making mistakes--I think we all do. Why do I aspire to that perfection in the first place? Why not aspire to taking risks? To finding bigger arenas in which to make mistakes? Why be afraid of those mistakes to begin with? I mean yes, mistakes cost us time, but we learn so so much from them.
So hey...what perfection are you targeting today? What if you replaced that goal with something grander that you were more likely to fail at? If you half-way succeed at a great big goal, will you be better off than if you completely succeed at the smaller perfection you were looking at before? I believe we are all called to be perfectly imperfect. Forget aspiring to perfect perfection. That BS will bite you in the ass every time. Aspire to make great mistakes and you'll get to see what you're really made of.