Okay, so this weekend I thought, "Sod it, time to press the 'submit' button and get a proof of my new book to check over". Otherwise I will be here for MONTHS micro-proof-reading the manuscript and making minuscule changes, yet at the same time overlooking obvious errors. I think this is part of "the genes" - the bit of my brain that's very similar to Ben's and definitely similar to my Dad's.
Yesterday I was reading Carrie Arnold's Decoding Anorexia (which, incidentally, is mega illuminating for anyone with an eating disorder or anyone caring for someone with an eating disorder). In it she talks about why many eating disorder sufferers, especially those with anorexia, have a history of perfectionism. She also talks about the scientific evidence that eating disorders like anorexia are biological illnesses that can be heritable i.e. they're genetic (and can be triggered into life by environmental factors or events).
For some time now it's been obvious that there's something genetic going on in my family. My Dad had issues which may have been undiagnosed OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder). He also had issues with food.
As described in earlier posts, I, too, have always had issues with food. But, the more I read Carrie's book and the more I do research into these other conditions (as a result of researching DBP therapy - Dialectical Behaviour Therapy), the more everything becomes crystal clear. Not just in the case of Ben and his anorexia plus any underlying mental health issues which were going on long, long before the eating disorder and will probably stay with him for life. (But which, hopefully, can be managed and re-channelled to ensure Ben has a happy and fulfilling life.)
But back to my book (called "Please eat... The true story of a mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia" in case you didn't know). (Read an excerpt here...)
As Carrie describes in her book, the perfectionist in her requires everything to be one hundred per cent right. One slight error and she feels as if she's failed; the kind of errors that most people don't just overlook but actually welcome in other people. In other words, people actually prefer others to have flaws, imperfections and make errors. They feel uncomfortable being around people who are, or appear to be, "perfect".
But "perfect" is how I am with my book. And it's how I approach my work as a copywriter, too. This is why it takes me so darn long to write anything. This approach also applies to a tonne of other aspects of my life (and Ben's, and my Dad's) which are becoming as clear as day now I've read Carries book and done this additional research.
For example I have a morbid fear of just one typo appearing in my book. Or the cover not printing perfectly. One slight error and I will feel as if I've failed. I will feel stupid. I will feel as if everyone will think I'm stupid, useless, etc. And, of course, I always feel that I'm a pretty cr*p writer, even though I do it for a (very successful) living, have a string of great testimonials as long as my arm and all the evidence points towards the fact that I am actually pretty good at my job.
Micro-managing my writing in this way often means that errors DO slip through the net. It's the classic "can't see the wood for the trees" scenario; I find it hard to see the bigger picture. And publishing my book scares me in case I do let something slip through the net unintentionally.
Finding it hard to see the bigger picture is why my Dad, Ben and me - although very creative - could only ever draw or paint tiny pictures or art work, all in the most minuscule detail. Give us a huge canvas and demand that we fill it - and we'd be lost! No, we'd run a mile! Or we'd have to set it out in tiny sections. But, then, if 99 per cent of these sections were perfect and one wasn't, then, well... it'd end up in the bin or have to be re-done.
And I won't even begin to describe how this approach affected my organisation of the school Christmas Fair which, as Deputy Chair of the PTA, I was in charge of for 5 years...
Anyway, this weekend I decided to bite the bullet and click that 'submit' button and send off for printed proofs of my book. I've ordered two, from different printers so I can check quality, etc to see which is best. Then I will micro-read it again.