The Big Finish

Having written 3 books, this subject is dear to me.  It's easy to tell when you've started - but how the heck can you tell when you're done?  "All writing is rewriting" - so they say, and if you're serious, you'll find yourself editing and rewriting endlessly, always questioning yourself - what can I do to make it better?  There is no buzzer, no alarm that announces the moment.  However, you do hit a point where you're trying to get too slick, too fine - you're not improving the product anymore.  When you feel that happening, you've got to get tough and go to market with what you've got.  You have to be able to look in the mirror and say - I did my best - and let it go - the way you would when your kid leaves for college.  Sometimes writers hang on to their manuscripts too long and really muck them up simply because they can't bear the idea of saying goodbye.  It's almost like a death.    
ElLagarto ElLagarto
56-60, M
11 Responses Jul 14, 2007

Thank you for your insight.

Nyx is right - a good editor/critic - has distance - and can help you make the right call.

"but how the heck can you tell when you're done? "<br />
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You are done when your editor forces you to slash away one third of your carefully crafted words?<br />
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A good editor can help a writer see the forest for the trees.

Here's to hoping, indeed.

“an editor speaks of behalf of your audience, helping to assure that what you do is comprehensible to others.”<br />
I hope this is true. Whenever I do have that saleable product, I will accept almost if not all the changes the editor recommends. My reason for this is simple, I want to make money from writing, so I have to be willing to write for my audience. I assume that if I allow editors to make as many changes as they want for my first few works, that eventually I will gain a reputation strong enough for me to release them as I intend. That is assuming I get to that point, here’s to hoping. <br />
On still re-writing my first novel, I want to be thorough and wouldn’t dream of letting anyone read the raw form. Once I have checked that every word is in the right place and that the story reads well, I will let my test readers read…and make changes on top of that.

A good editor doesn't want to change you into someone else, a good editor wants to help you become a better you. To write is to become lost in your own world - after a while it can be hard to be ob<x>jective. An editor speaks of behalf of your audience, helping to assure that what you do is comprehensible to others. If you self-publish, as I have, you will need that thick skin ever more that if you took the trditional route.

Sounds like you're well on the way. A thick skin - skin a rhinoceros might envy - will be your best friend. "Persistence rewards talent," so they say. You are right about the audience. But in between you and the audience are a thousand middle men - many are idiots. You have to find and reach your audience - and that's a struggle.

Ok, here's where you're going to think I'm either conceded or just plain stupid, but I edit something I've written once and I don't really care if the publisher likes it or not because I do. I feel there are a million people out there as well as "publishers" and sooner or later someone is bound to like what I've done. I have a thick skin so I don't get my feelings hurt when I get rejection notices. I've also had publishers send me back a manuscript with the changes they want me to make and when I read over them, it's not even my story any more - it's theirs.

Wishing you much luck in your writing endeavors. Writing forums are extremely expiring and helpful.

I would think it is like anything you enjoy doing and are able to feel a sense of accomplishment. With all those neurons firing that reinforce those good feelings, you are, of course, going to want to feel those good feelings again and again. <br />
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No matter how tough the journey may have been, you are motivated to make that journey again.<br />
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Do you seek opinions from people you trust, such as an editor, as to if you are truly finished with the book or not?