With this assignment, there wasn't time for any of the distance and reflection that perfecting requires. In fact, I only found the thread of the essay on what turned out to be the day I went into labour, and wound up writing the piece two days later, in the throes of post-partum emotion and delirious with lack of sleep.
Of course, perfectionist that I am, I only see the faults in the published piece: the clumsy metaphor, the opportunities for expansion. But readers' reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. One author I know who puts enormous emotion into everything she writes told me that this was the first piece I have ever written that made her cry. (If you would like a copy of the piece, just let me know.)
The experience was actually a good lesson in how I will have to approach creative work now that I'm a mother: after nearly a decade of prioritizing perfection over completion, done will now have to be better than perfect. And I think that will turn out to be a good thing. I have a tendency to overthink my writing.
Readers who are both parents and writers, how did your writing change after you had children?
Of course, cryptic crosswords are a different beast entirely. They demand precision in the layout and, to a certain extent, in the clues. It makes me wonder how many of the setters I have recently connected with are parents and how they have balanced the demands of parenthood (time pressure but also the lack of sleep that fuzzes up my concentration) with the rigours of setting. Anyone?