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Anne Louise Bannon on Not Being Perfect

Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Old Los Angeles and Operation Quickline series. You can find out more about her on her website, or by clicking here, read her last post here, and buy her books here.

I sew a lot of my clothing. Or I should say that I try to. The reality is, I’m not that good a stitcher. I make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes they show, and when they don’t, I’ll often let them go. And, yes, there are mistakes on the two projects in the photos above and below.

Picture of a top on a dress form
I promise, the topstitching is crooked on this top

I started sewing when I was in middle school, back when most girls took Home Economics. I thought I would like the cooking part and hate the sewing part. Turns out, I hate cooking but like sewing. Okay, my favorite part is the design process, where I match fabrics to patterns and sometimes try to figure out how to make a top or something I saw in a store. Then I enjoy laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric to leave as few scraps as possible. The actual construction? Not so much.

The reason why is that when I was coming up, there was a strong emphasis on making everything absolutely perfect. If it wasn’t, you took the seam or whatever out and re-did it. Sometimes, taking out that bit of bad stitching would ruin your whole project. That attitude still hangs on with me every time I sit down at my sewing machine. I keep sitting down there because I am determined to fight that kind of perfectionism.

Why? It does me no good. None. Zilch. Zip.

It’s the same with my writing. I will never be perfect. There will always be that one oddly-turned phrase, that bit of humor that wasn’t funny, that [insert expletive here] typo. Multiple typos. The ones that get through dozens of readings, several human eyes looking for them, and a grammar checker.

This is not to suggest that I don’t care about my end product, whether it’s my latest novel or outfit. I do and I work hard to make things the absolute best they can be. But perfect? Nope. I am not perfect and I am tired of the stress that comes from trying to be the impossible.

When I sew, I have the Three-Foot Rule, as in if it doesn’t show from three feet away, then I’m not worrying about it. I figure if you are within three feet of me, then we’d better be on the sort of terms where you’re not going to judge me if my topstitching isn’t straight (which it generally isn’t). When I write, I take a deep breath and try not to panic.

For example, right before my last Old Los Angeles book came out, I was at a book event, and was horrified to discover that the very first line of the book had a major typo in it. And there I was, trying to do some advance sales in order to drum up interest. Okay, I screamed a little, then pointed the error out to potential buyers, saying that was why this was an advance copy. I sold a few, too. And I got that line corrected the very second I could. It’s not there anymore. I promise.

I am constantly growing my skills as a stitcher, just as I am as a writer. I will always strive to be better. But perfect? I’m doing my damndest not to worry about that. There are a lot more interesting ways to make myself cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Anne Louise Bannon

Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline Series and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, or Facebook.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. joyribar

    As a perfectionist myself, it’s good to hear others are dealing with the syndrome. We are always harder on ourselves, ready to forgive the slip-ups of others. I found little typos in some of my books after the final publication. I attended an editing workshop and wrote this down: the very best top notch editors will catch 95-98% of all typos. Typos will happen. I’ve noticed that most readers ignore them and move on.

  2. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    I’m an inveterate Type A+ person when it comes to all my creations. As much as I wish I weren’t, I don’t think there’s any changing it now. I pride myself on no typos in my books, yet I, too, find them despite all those professional eyes on text. At least readers haven’t pointed them out. And I’ve reread these comments three times before clicking “Post”! (If you find errors, don’t tell me.)

  3. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Anne — Like Joy and Sherrill, I also have an “exactly so” type of personality. And though several pairs of eyes read my books before they go to print, like ninjas, some manage to sneak through to the final product. Grrrr!

  4. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    Thanks for all the great comments! I’m still recuperating from a conference today. But wanted you to know I appreciate your thoughts.

  5. Tracey Phillips
    Tracey Phillips

    Anne, this is great advice! And something I need to tell myself every day, too. You’re brave to make your own clothes! Even braver to write books- or so I’ve been told. Art is so subjective. We all make mistakes. We just need to take a minute to forgive ourselves, right? Thanks so much for the reminder!

  6. Avatar
    Julie Holmes, author

    Hiya, Anne! Didn’t realize you’re one of the Blackbirds! And I agree with you on the three-foot rule. Keep up the crafting–both writing and sewing 🙂

  7. Anne Louise Bannon
    Anne Louise Bannon

    Thanks, Julie and Tracey! Always helps to know there’s someone in our corner.

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