by Bryan Patrick Avery
A good friend and colleague of mine used to tell anyone who would listen, “perfection is the enemy of completion.” He statement is, of course, a paraphrasing of Voltaire’s quote, “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” But is it true?
It just might be. I’ve watched magicians practice routines for months, or even longer, refusing to perform something that brought them joy because they weren’t sure it was perfect. Likewise, I’ve watching my fellow writers hold tight to a piece they loved because they weren’t positive it couldn’t be improved. This month, I’d like to, briefly, tell you about a chance I took with a piece I wasn’t sure was perfect and what happened when I took that chance.
Like many of you, I found myself with a little extra time when the pandemic began in 2020. I decided to put that time to good use and signed up for a chapter book writing course taught by Marcie Colleen.
Author's Note: If you ever have the chance to spend time learning from Marcie, take it.
In the class, each author created a new chapter series from scratch, including character sketches, story summaries and the like. I put together plans for a series featuring a robot detective, programmed with every mystery story ever told. As the class progressed, I started writing the manuscript for the first, called THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY. I was excited and before the class was over, had completed a first draft of the story.
I was able to get some feedback on the early chapters of the story which was mostly enthusiastic and positive. I was pumped. I knew there were some improvements to make, and I committed to making them over the course of the summer of 2020. Then, Twitter intervened.
I came across a Tweet from an editor at Capstone Publishing. She was looking for someone to write a new early chapter book series and issued an open call to writers. You just needed to send a three-page writing sample. So, I did the unthinkable. I read through the first few pages of THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY, made a few changes and sent them off to Capstone.
I knew the story wasn’t perfect, but I thought it was good enough and was representative of my style and skill. Soon after, I got a response from Capstone. I was brought on to write four books of a new series called Mr. Grizley’s Class. The four books came out in August 2021. Writing those four books led to me writing two Jake Maddox JV Mysteries, SOCCER SUSPICIONS and OFF BASE, both of which come out in January 2022. None of this would have happened if I, instead, decided to keep working the story until I was absolutely sure it was perfect.
This means, of course, that I spent from Summer 2020 through Spring 2021 writing these books. What happened, you ask, to THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY? Well, I cleaned it up a bit more and submitted this past Spring for consideration for the SCBWI Work in Progress Award. Just a few days ago, SCBWI announced the ROBOT won the award in the chapter books category. I’m still celebrating as I write this blog!
All of this is to say, simply, you may not ever feel your work is perfect. It might never be. Make it as good as you can and get it out there. There’s a world ready to read what you have to say. Don’t keep us waiting.
Well, that’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month!
At the age of 7, Bryan Patrick Avery discovered a love of reading and mysteries after receiving his first Bobbsey Twins Mystery Book. Today, he is an award-winning poet and author of books for children. His middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, an anthology from HarperCollins and the Mystery Writers of America. His debut picture book, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, was published by Clearfork Publishing/Spork. His early reader series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra, is available now from Picture Window Press. He is the 2021 recipient of the SCBWI Work in Progress Award for his chapter book mystery THE ROBOT IN THE LIBRARY.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a 2021 Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation. Bryan lives in Northern California with his family.
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
4th Mondays will be a mystery for right now.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break