Perfect! Well, Maybe Not…

Who, me? Moderate?

As of this morning, it’s official! I’ll be moderating my first conference panel, virtual or otherwise. I’ve been a panelist before, but never a moderator. Talk about nervousness! I’m responsible for setting the tone and the pace of the discussion. A discussion between professional writers. In front of an audience. Oh my! No, I’m not sweating or shaking or feeling terrified, why do you ask?

The curse of the perfectionist

Confession: I am a perfectionist. My #lifegoal is to be a recovering perfectionist. Perfect is, they say, the enemy of good. The drive to be perfect, usually born of a fear of failure, often acts as a stumbling block. If you’re afraid to fail, you hesitate to even try. There is zero risk of failing something that you don’t start. As for finishing anything? Don’t even get me started. (See what I did there?) Finishing a task or a project implies you’ll have to show it to—gasp—someone else. What if it’s—double gasp—less than perfect? No, much better to remain in a perpetual state of working on it.

Older and wiser

The good news, for me, is that the older I get, the less concerned I am about the approval of others. Not that I want to alienate people or shout, “Eff You!” to the whole world. But, as I’ve, er, matured, I have gained confidence in myself and my skills, knowledge, and abilities. I don’t need external validation to feel competent. I can look at my own work and tell whether I’ve done my best. I have come to realize that I am my own worst critic. Or, rather, my own best critic.

It’s all good. Okay, not all

That’s not to say that feedback from others is never helpful. Constructive feedback often helps you improve. However, no matter how good you are, there will always be at least one person who doesn’t like what you did, often for reasons that have nothing to do with you. The trick is to determine which feedback is constructive and which is sour grapes or jealousy or flat-out irrelevant. Learning to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the pointless requires accepting the risk of failure that comes with challenging yourself to grow. Yes, it’s scary. No, you won’t be perfect. But you might have fun and, if you prepare, you’ll be better than you thought you would.

Ask a thriller author

One way to prepare is to do your research. I’ll be hosting a panel aimed at aspiring authors interested in writing thrillers. So, I’ll begin my research by asking, if you were attending a conference and had the chance to present a question to a published thriller author, what would you ask? Comment here, on Facebook, or Twitter. And, if you’re interested in attending the conference (it’s free), check out the sponsor’s website for more information and the registration link.


  1. I’m a diehard fan of ProWriting Aid, so I’d love to pop into this panel. I never thought of perfectionism as being the enemy of good! I think I’ve accepted a very long time that I can’t ever be perfect, so being good is a pretty decent goal.

    And don’t get me started on irrelevant critiques! My first novel was paranormal romance, and one of my fellow workshoppers said that he didn’t like the genre and then proceeded to satirize my chapters in lieu of critique. I took it for what it was and finished the novel anyway and sent it out. You can’t ever please everyone all the time. Even Stephen King gets one star reviews :-).

  2. It would be great to see you at the conference, Emilya. And I hope you send that “satirist” a signed copy of your novel

  3. I can identify! Throw in a spoonful of OCD and perfectionism takes off. Not in a good way. You’ll be great because you’ll draw them out. My mom always said, “Make others feel comfortable and you will be, too.”

  4. I’d like to know: why thrillers? Why do authors feel drawn to writing them instead of something else? And do they read only other thrillers or is there something else they read?

    You’ll be fabulous.

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