Striving toward literary "perfection".

At one point in his eventful life, everybody’s favorite capitalist–Benjamin Franklin–developed a plan to achieve perfection. In fact, he recorded his attempt in his autobiography–delineating the process by which he chose the “virtues” that together embodied perfection, as well as the method by which he hoped to obtain perfection in each of these virtues.

Such virtues as “moderation” and “humility” were used as examples–he planned to dedicate a set amount of time to each, and at the end of the total amount of time, he was quite certain he would be the embodiment of perfection.

Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but I think that Franklin’s attempts are not at all dissimilar to our own. In fact, I think they are quite comparative.

As writers, we are attempting to create a “perfect” work of literature–perfect in the sense that somewhere, somehow an agent and or major publishing house will like it enough to back it, etc. etc.

Now, barring slightly erratic behavior and the (possibly delusional) belief that complete behavioral perfection can be attained in a matter of weeks, Franklin does have a point:

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, writing a successful novel is not subject to chance, or the visitation of muse, or winning the lottery. It just isn’t. At least, not completely. A successful novel can be written using a mystical method called hard, continuous work. Rear in chair. Fingers on keyboard. Nose in craft and writing books. Day in and day out.

Now, it may not happen in a matter of weeks, but like Franklin said, working steadfastly everyday will get you there eventually. In fact, it probably won’t even take a lifetime. Maybe a year, maybe two. In some cases, ten–but those generally involve thick historical novels.

That said, the occasional fishing trip to Alaska, or all expense paid vacation to Greece couldn’t hurt either. Just saying.

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