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Showing posts from May, 2015

When Do You Stop Wiping?

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Life usually gives you clear signals about when to stop doing something. When you cough, you stop smoking. When the light turns red, you stop moving. When the tissue appears free of skid marks, you stop wiping.

Writing is trickier, if one has obsessive tendencies. Call it perfectionism (to be polite), OCD (to be clinical), or analness (to be Freudian). It's hard to know when to stop rewriting. Even when I write a casual email, sometimes I read it multiple times before clicking that scary "send" button. It's like farting: once it's out, you can't suck it back.

A friend once said to me that analness is good because anal people keep planes from falling down. True. When planes don't fall from the sky, the engineers know they got it right.

With writing, the standard is more elusive. When I thought I was done with my novel, I kept tinkering with it.

Sometimes, I obsessed over a tiny issue of word choice or punctuation - it was not …