Maybe Leave the Mistakes

You may be bored by interviews, but I love interviews with writers and artists and scientists.

I am reading The Paris Review Interviews: vol. I. Have you read these interviews?

My favorite interview so far is with Jorge Luis Borges. Mostly I liked it because Borges came across as someone I’d want to talk to. But anyway, one thing he says is this:

I think that Mark Twain was one of the really great writers, but I think he was rather unaware of the fact. But perhaps in order to write a really great book, you must be rather unaware of the fact. You can slave away at it and change every adjective to some other adjective, but perhaps you can write better if you leave the mistakes.

I like that. Leave the mistakes.

What a relief that is.

How much do you worry about mistakes? What mistakes are you willing to leave?

I’ve got mistakes in my short stories, especially (and thank goodness I have this as an excuse) a story written in one day. Whew. So. Half of story number 17.

8 thoughts on “Maybe Leave the Mistakes

  1. I think you have a much greater chance of ruining a piece of art or writing by overdoing it, going beyond the point where you should have just stopped, than underdoing. That has been my unfailing experience.

  2. Three cheers for this thought! The truth is there’s no such thing as perfection. I think a lot of writers (at times, myself included) strive to write what the ‘industry’ says is right. We try to polish, polish, polish until we wear our stories down to the bone and there’s nothing left but a glaring copy of everyone else’s story.

    What makes a story unique is its flaws. Its eccentricities.

    I don’t know about you – but the idea frees me. Makes me unafraid to write. Lets be imperfect, Marta! 🙂

  3. Hm. Mistakes. Happy accidents? Serendipity is one thing, but mistakes? No, I don’t make mistakes. That’s what the delete key is for. And the backspace key. See, you might think I’ve made mistakes here and there in this comment, but you can’t find evidence of them now. It’s magic.

    I also find planning the novel at least somewhat helps me avoid mistakes. When I can write a novel, that is. 😦

    1. You always find the mistakes? The delete gets them all? Oh, that would be magic indeed! Well, there are mistakes of typing, mistakes of plot, mistakes of logic…so many kinds…can you avoid/catch them all?

  4. I fret over and pick at little mistakes — typos, subject-verb disagreement, malapropisms, along those lines — and sometimes that blinds me to the larger ones. Very very bad. When I look back at things I wrote years ago, I find them unblemished in the small but ugly in the large. This (I think) is why the WIP is taking me so long: I’m trying like hell to manage the scenery and the lighting and the plot and dialogue and relationships, while not losing touch with the OCD self. And I fret, simultaneously, that I won’t have enough time to finish it at ALL, let alone RIGHT. Mistakes may be poison but my biggest mistake is probably worrying… about making mistakes, and about everything else.

    If I could put you on a plane during a long flight next to any author from the past, it’d be Borges. Man. You two would hit it right off.

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