I used to write and rewrite every passage, as if a book was a poem. I was a perfectionist. But I was set free from that sysiphian task by this post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch who wrote:
1. Write a lot of good stories. Not beautiful words. Good stories. Remember, fiction gets translated into a variety of languages, and in those languages, your original words get lost. Only stories get translated, stories with great characters, great plots, and unforgettable moments. I wrote a lot about this over the summer. Start with my post titled, “Perfection.”
I still struggle. First, there is the old idea of the masterwork. I feel that I ought to be able to write a masterwork before I become a for-real author. But as I’ve gotten older, and as I’ve gotten a little more realistic about my talent, I’ve realized that I’m just ok. I’m never going to write the great American novel. And that’s ok. Some people like what I write. That’s good enough. Frankly, like most writers I know, I’m a bit OCD about writing. As in, I don’t have a choice about it. I have to write.
But I don’t have to edit and edit and edit anymore.
It also helped moving from short stories to novels. I find that I don’t fuss around as much with my novel (in progress). With short stories, I still fuss too much.
Now I’m working with a translator on my book of fables. It’ s interesting because where I worked and worked and worked on the language of each story, to make it super nice to read out loud, I have no control over the tone of the translation. the only thing that will really be translated is the story or the myth contained in each story. And I’m ok with that.