Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Final Fullstop

I sent off Book 3 of the series Chee Chee's Adventures today. People compare releasing a book to giving birth, but this was more like sending a kid to college because it has been loafing on my computer for weeks, but I haven't been ready to let it go. What finally spurred me into action? The sounds of Christmas that are softly making their way into my consciousness as the weather gets cooler and the store sales get more intense. Let's face it, Christmas is the best time to sell children's books. I've been working on a plan for the season and it finally dawned on me that it might be useful to have a few books to market! (We can't all be rocket scientists, okay.)

But that's not the point of this article. (Yes, I ramble when I talk as well.) I wanted to talk about the process of writing, self-editing and knowing when to stop. You know how it goes. Every time you read the piece you can change something; maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. Even after an independent editor has reviewed it, you still go at it again searching for something that could improve it. This challenge may be greater for those who self-publish because our deadlines are self-imposed and easier to ignore.

We all want to put out the perfect book, story or poem. I promise you that there comes a point, and fairly early in the process (after the grammatical, logical and spelling errors have been removed), when the longer that you work on it, the more likely you are changing things for the worse. You start removing phrases that were beautiful when they flowed spontaneously from your pen and replacing them with more stilted wording. At some point, before you start hating it, you have to trust that you have raised a wonderful child ... sorry, written a compelling story, and send it out into the world.

How do you know when it is time to stop working on a story?


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm gonna have to post on this topic sometime. The rewriting, rewriting stuff. I think mood has a big impact in whether rewriting helps or harms.

bettye griffin said...

When all my notes have been addressed and the story is completely written, it's usually time for me to pull back. I generally send it to be edited and take a break for a week or so (working at another project), then pick it up again and polish it some more. There's ALWAYS something needing polishing. As for when it's truly finished, that's something you'll just feel (just like you do when it's time to bring that new relationship into the bedroom). It's an instinctive thing...but it should definitely come before you start hating it.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

I write from an outline so I can tell when the end is nigh and then I do about three revisions over a period of several months. I might still tweak something here and there just before I go to upload but I'm usually pretty comfortable with what finally goes out.