Posted in Writing

‘Between the idea and the reality…falls the shadow’

‘Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow’. [T.S. Eliot]

This is one of those quotes that has always stayed in my mind, and comes to the forefront whenever I complete a book or an article.A very brilliant friend once said that he was writing a book, but that if it wasn’t perfect, he would destroy it. As far as I know, the book was never completed or published.

As I writer I always have a perfect idea in my mind, and try and try to reach that ideal. After several drafts, revisions, changes, improvements of all kinds, I reach a point where I cannot do any more. And the book is still not perfect, the ideal has not been reached! Yet the thought of destroying it never comes to mind. I recognize it as fairly good, as something worthwhile for others to read, and it goes out to the world. The shadow always falls between the idea and reality.

What do other writers think? Do you attain the perfection you sought to achieve? Will you destroy it if you haven’t reached that ideal?



A writer with ten published books and several articles, book reviews etc. I primarily write on history and religion, but also philosophical fiction.

7 thoughts on “‘Between the idea and the reality…falls the shadow’

  1. I think perfection is just that – an ideal that’s worth striving for, but…
    I plan and think through what I intend to write before I set it down on the page, but what works in my head doesn’t do so well there. At the most obvious level, things can happen simultaneously in the head, but on the page they have to be shaken into a certain order. We’re making judgement calls all the time. Should this be here or there? Do I really need it? Have I said enough about that? Or perhaps too much?
    The perfect line is possible (particularly for poets!), even the perfect paragraph (or poem). But the perfect book? Well, some readers might think they’ve read one, but the writer is probably thinking, Well, I could have…should have…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have described the process well–there is another side to it too–when a book is published I do feel there are things that could be improved, but at the same time I am amazed at all that has been done.

      Liked by 1 person

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