(these are the illustrations in my copy of Mary Poppins — they’re by Mary Shepard!)
Mary Poppins may be “practically perfect in every way,” but she’s a fictional character. And also magical.
First Second is a pretty awesome publisher, but I have to admit: we are neither fictional or magical, which means that we make mistakes all the time. (This is not to say that fictional magical people do not sometimes have their own problems; I just feel like they generally have more easily able to get themselves out of any mistakes they make.)
Every single person we work with — booksellers, librarians, teachers, media, printers, designers, letterers, editors, rights agents, freelancers, and even authors — is neither fictional nor magical, which means that sometimes they may mistakes as well.
That’s kind of a crazy thing to admit!
We’d really like to be 100% perfect all the time, and I know that everyone else we work with feels similarly about their desire for perfection in their own work. But the truth of the matter is, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. The most carefully copy-edited books and press releases can still contain typos; even when you double-check your schedule, you can still show up five minutes late to an important meeting.
It turns out that it’s actually impossible to be perfect all of the time. You just can’t do it!
Does this mean that you shouldn’t strive for perfection? Not at all — it’s great to endeavor to create a wondrous thing (whether it’s an email or a book pitch or a font or a graphic novel). But honestly, accepting that perfection is something that you can only asymptotically approach may be healthier for everyone in the long run. Continually demanding perfection of yourself can be exhausting — and disheartening!