On the desktop of my computer is this picture of Neil Gaiman:
It's there because, well, Neil Gaiman. And because of that second bit. Finish Things. He's right about that, I know, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do.
Finishing things, really truly finishing them--not just abandoning them and hoping no one notices that you didn't really hone it into something beautiful as you should have--is difficult. It takes time and hard work. Deep brain and soul work.
It's not fun in the same way as starting things. After a while, you might not like what you're working on and wish you could just be done already. Even a potential masterpiece can lose its sheen for its creator when you've been staring down the barrel of it too long. But if you give up too soon, it's a near-miss. It's not what it should have been.
It's also sometimes difficult to know when you have, indeed, finished something. There is a time when your tinkering around and rearranging things is just you fussing about because you don't quite have the guts yet to send it out there into the world to be judged. You're lingering and procrastinating when the work is really already done.
I'm afraid that's where I am right now. I've got a book I first wrote as NaNoWriMo 2013…so that means I've already been working on it over a year. Moreso than other books I've written, I'm worried about getting this one right. So, I keep seeking one more beta reader, one more round of edits, one more…something. Anything that means I don't have to send her out there yet.
I'm fighting that impulse in myself by making a schedule. She's *done* as of the end of March. It will be done. It is known.
It's time to finish this, so I can move on to the other projects waiting in the wings.
How about you? How do you know when you have really finished something?
This posting is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To check out other posts by writers in a variety of places in their careers, check out the participant list. This group is one of the most open and supportive groups of people I have ever been associated with. You should check them out!
LOL--it is known. :D Hopefully your end of March plan works out.ReplyDelete
Sometimes I feel like I'll never finish. There's still so much to figure out. I just keep chipping away at it and hopefully at some point I'll realize it's done.
Thanks! It helps that my beta reads have become progressively more positive. That must mean it's ready, right?Delete
Finishing really is the key to success! I needed this reminder today, so thank you for sharing your thoughts and insecurities about something that can be a lot harder to do than beginning.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Karen. I agree that finishing is way harder than beginning.Delete
I think it's a good idea to set that deadline. It's so easy to pick our work apart and doubt it, and incredibly hard to put it out there and say "This is good enough." As I've heard multi-published authors say again and again, "It will never be done to your satisfaction. You have to just let it go."ReplyDelete
I guess that feeling of dissatisfaction is a good sign in some ways. It means I care a great deal about the quality. I'm hopeful that setting the deadline will get to stop tinkering though!Delete
I have that same photo on my background (well, it's in my cycling folder of motivation).ReplyDelete
I am a deadline person too. I, too easily, get sucked into an editing loop.
I've got a strict editing structure. I go through three rounds of edits, one round of Beta readers, and a professional editor. Then I'm done. If I can't get it right by then, I'm just spinning my wheels.
But that's what work for me. I know a lot of people that dabble in several projects and do several rounds of edits and several rounds of readers.
Everyone has their own process.
I'm trying to streamline my process. It means a lot to me to get my work "out there" sooner, and since I'm going traditional in the form of small press, the process is already somewhat long--I don't need to make it worse by dithering.Delete
This post is especially timely for me. I'm working on another rewrite, and it seems like a lot needs to be cut. But does it really need to be cut, or am I being too critical because it's mine?ReplyDelete
I don't have a beta reader, but I could really use one. I know how to find beta fish, but not beta readers. Maybe there's a store where beta readers swim around in plastic bags. I must find it.
LOL. I have found my beta readers through online writing groups. Pretty much, it's been a "give one, get one" scenario. In January, I participated in the Write-a-Thin at Women's Fiction Writers Association. IN the conversations there, I found two other women who were going to have beta-ready novels in February. So, we traded. I read theirs and they read mine.Delete
This is hard for me too. I tend to go through multiple betas and revisions and still not really know if I'm finished.ReplyDelete
I really liked what you said about a near miss.
I think that's a good description for the manuscript I'm not sure what to do with. But I need to try and see if I can fix it and finally, truly finish. Thanks for the inspiration!
It's entirely possible to tinker with a single piece forever, striving for some imaginary sense of perfection. I hope you get there too on your current project.Delete
It's hard to say "DONE" for just about every step in the writing process. I'm so close to being done with editing my novel I can smell it, feel it, taste it. It's almost here.ReplyDelete
What a powerful word, "almost". "Done" is ten times more powerful.
Here's to "done"!Delete
Jeez, what a hard thing to know. Honestly, I probably threw my babies into shark infested waters way too early. But I figured I was done with them when the vision in my head matched what was on the page. I don't know... does that mean the end? Either way, good luck to you and your soon-to-be-release!ReplyDelete
The problem I have with matching the vision on the page and in my head, is the one in my head is usually not complete. I discover the rest of it while I'm writing it! You may have hit the key though-"I was done with them." It's not some external factor that decides.Delete
It's (probably) done until you get the feedback from editors/agents.ReplyDelete
I think we all get to a point where our alterations occur just so we DID something with the darn manuscript. You know, where you swap out words using a thesaurus just to undo 95% of them? We tend to lose sight of "meaningful" or "better" changes when we're dragging our heels.
That's it, exactly, Jennifer! Setting a deadline is helping me stop tinkering uselessly.Delete
I also have fear of completion! Happens with every novel. Right now I'm knee deep in research for this particular novel and I haven't written in about 3 weeks. Just research, and I feel like I'm spinning my wheels here. I know it's about time for me to just get to it, and just finish the darn book, but you know, more research, says my fearful, procrastinating brain. Good luck to you. I hope the end of March sees your completed, awesome novel.ReplyDelete
I've been there on the research thing…that'll be my demon to fight in the sequel to Cold Spring. Some research is needed, but I'll probably do more than is needed.Delete