As a writer, my goal is clarity in my prose.But sometimes even the most careful writer will make a mistake. Take a look at the comic just above this paragraph. In all honestly, I can see me writing a sentence like this and not noticing the ambiguity of meaning, particularly if I was caught up in the storytelling. And I might not pick it up in the edits, because it will seem to make perfect sense in the context of the story. I might even miss this flaw in the proofreading stage, because writers often become blind to their own mistakes. This is why it is always a good idea to have one or two friends prepared to cast an eye over your work for typos and plot holes and ambiguous sentences.
This isn’t my only writing flaw. I’m not good with settings, unless I really concentrate. I tend to overuse the word ‘it’. I like adverbs (please don’t hate me). But these are flaws I can generally pick up when I am doing my edits.
Writers are only human. Achieving perfect means lots of hard work … and no writer ever looks at a finished piece of work and says “That’ll do.” I have a mental vision of most writers refusing to die because they have just one more correction to make. Sometimes our manuscripts have to be crow-barred out of our clutches. This is because we know that the minute our little word baby is released to the world, we are going to find a mountain of mistakes we never saw before.
But you can’t just hang onto your work forever. Even the most dedicated word nerd needs to finish that manuscript (I feel such a hypocrite while writing this sentence). If you’ve spent the time and the trouble to get your story nigh on perfect, it’s time to share, even if it just with a beta-reader or two.