Writing today and I got bogged down on the phrase, “opened his eyes a sliver.”

Seriously, bogged down as in staring at the words, wondering what they mean, whether anyone would understand the image in my head, debating other options — peered, peeked, peeped through his eyelashes? Ugh, just stuck in the mud of self-critical English language analysis.

So stuck that I googled and yeah, the phrase has been used 33,000 times so I think probably I’m safe to assume that readers will understand it. But I cannot google every random phrase, because that one line — and not even a very good line — is all I accomplished in my twenty minute writing sprint.

And then I took a deep breath and reminded myself of the author whose books I’ve been obsessed with lately and the reason I’ve been obsessed with her. It’s not because her words are perfect. They are so not. Run-on sentences, sentence fragments, mixed-up which and that, random commas, even the occasional flat-out error. Even the stories–her early plots wander, ideas are introduced and then dropped, characters’ names are too similar and there are way too many of them… But when I’m reading, I don’t care. Because her imagination is incredible.

The words aren’t as important as the story behind them. Noah’s story is great. I love Noah’s story. I love Grace’s role in Noah’s story, I love Rose and Dillon. So it’s time to let go of this crazy perfectionism and just tell the story. I need to trust that the right readers — the ones like me, the ones who are going to love the story — that they’re out there. And if not, that that’s okay, as long as I have fun telling it.

More fun, less perfectionism. My new goal. First draft rule — tell a story that I understand. If it’s missing details, unclear, whatever, trust that beta readers will let me know.