This little company I’ve created, is forcing me to face something I never thought was achievable. Perfection. I am in no way a perfectionist. In fact, I assume since people are involved with everything we do in life, there will always be a flaw. The fact that it is impossible to eliminate human error has helped me to focus on what has been achieved rather than what went wrong. I’ve never been one to strive for perfection, excellence but never perfection. Perfection is unattainable as long as humans are involved.
I have been waiting almost 20 years to see a children’s manuscript of mine in print. It’s had a few rewrites, a handful of illustrators attempting to give it life. The completed book, Mr. Hobbins’ Beautiful Things arrived yesterday for my proofing. “It’s perfect, we don’t need to change a thing,” I told my designer. I excitedly handed it to my husband to read. Half way through the book he noticed a speck on one of the pages. “What’s that?” he inquired. “Nothing. Ink,” I responded. “No. It’s something,” he assured me.
Later in the evening I forced myself to look at the speck that had passed me by. It wasn’t just a speck. It was a single quotation mark floating on the far left side of the page. That can’t be, I thought, it must be a mistake on the printers end. I went back to the PDF on my computer, opened to page 14 and there is was. It sat right next to the three little specks on my dirty computer screen. A single quotation mark. Not close to any others. Not close to any illustration. Hanging out there all by itself creating imperfection.
Thinking of the chain reaction this single quotation mark was going to have, I honestly asked, “Do we have to fix it?” “Of course you do,” was my husband’s reply (he is a perfectionist, although he claims to go through life with low expectations, he’s much happier when it’s perfect). It took me a while to see the humor in this situation. This morning it is very humorous. In fact that floating single quotation mark has opened the door to make a few additional changes, making Mr. Hobbins’ just a little more perfect.
I expect the longer I’m in this business the better I’ll become at finding imperfections. I’m still striving for excellence, not perfection. No matter how many times I look, or how many eyes I have helping me, there will always be a single quotation mark floating on the perimeter that will force me ask, “Do I have to fix that?” Hopefully, I’ll always have someone close by to answer, “Of course you do.”