Wednesday, August 1, 2012

If You're Happy And You Know It... (An IWSG Post)

...clap your hands.

And then tell me how you did it.

Not the hand clapping thing.  I've got that down.  I can even slow clap.

But what I mean is if you're happy with your manuscript and you know it, how'd you do that?  How'd you know you were done?  How'd you know it was right?

The reason I'm asking is... well, besides the fact that I'm incredibly insecure—  is that I think I might be done.  Yeah, yesterday I was all "Oh woe is me, I have X number of pages left to edit" and I'm wondering if part of the reason why I'm struggling to close out these edits is that maybe they don't need to be done in the first place.  (Well, some of them anyway.  I did pull two scenes apart so I should probably put them back together again, if nothing else.)

I feel as though I'm in a place where if I keep editing, if I keep making changes, then it will be to the book's determent.  That it won't be my book anymore.  And as I'm going the self publishing route, I feel like I damn well better love this book.

So, all perfectly valid arguments, I think, but here's the thing.  I don't really trust myself because— let's face it— I hate editing.  I understand that it's a necessary evil like going to the dentist or my day job or doing sit ups (Oh wait. I don't do sit ups. Never mind...).  I understand that it makes my dismal first draft into something readable but I still don't like it. 

Therefore, I'm afraid I'm just making excuses, justifying my deep desire to not edit anymore.  You know, kind of like how I justify having that last piece of chocolate cake because I don't want it to get lonely.  I'm just thinking of the cake.  Really.

So I'm turning to you, my fellow writers, to help me out here.  How'd you know you were ready?  How'd you know you'd finally crossed that finish line?  How'd you convince yourself to stop being crazy (not that you're crazy) and take the plunge?

Shower me with wisdom, slap me upside the head, whatever it takes.  I'm game.

I'm also scheduled at The Store today so I won't be able to hit your blogs until much later in the day.  But leave some chocolate cake out for me and I'll be sure to find my way.

Happy writing all...

(For a complete list of all IWSG participants, click on the graphic at the beginning of this post)



  1. I have no idea how to know when a manuscript is officially and totally done. Usually when Betas tell me it. And when agents say, let me read that. But still, I think it's engrained in me to know that there will always be edits. I sympathize with you completely on this - I would be a hot mess regarding edits if I were self publishing. Good luck! We are here if you need us!

  2. I don't really think anything is ever "done." You will always go back and find more things, more tweaks, more spit shining, more whatever. It's really a matter of "done enough." Do -you- like it? I mean, is it something you'd sit down to read? That's really where it hit me with mine: I started reading the beginning chapters in my kid's class at school, and, as I was reading, I was enjoying the story and the jokes and all the stuff, and I knew it was ready enough. There are still things I would fix (and I eventually will do another edition with some grammar fixes that I missed), but I knew it was ready for an audience because I liked it. It was something I would pay money to read if someone else had written it.

  3. To me, a book is much like a baseball field. There is no end to the outfield as there is no true end to a book.

    Have you ever picked up something you're written over 10 years ago and immediately see where you could have written it better?


    The best you can do is the best you can do.


  4. I can really only echo what everyone else said. It's never done. There's always something that could be a bit tighter, a bit different, but at some point, it's you who has to draw the line.

    I wish there was something better or more helpful I could add, but that is pretty much what it comes down to. *hugs*

  5. I could edit for England! I edit, submit it, re-edit, re-submit. With every rejection comes the perfect excuse to edit. Although even my 'novels' are only around 50,000 so I'm not sure I'd be quite so red-pen-happy if I wrote proper novels!

    I think you just have to say 'I'm done' out loud, and try to believe it :-)

  6. We could edit forever if we let ourselves.
    When I start changing things back to the way they were in the first draft, then I know I'm done.

  7. Have your cake and stop editing too! Go with your gut. This is your baby. If you feel like more editing would be to its detriment, trust yourself on it.

    And congratulations! You're as "done" as "done" could be.


  8. I think you've had the answer all along - "I feel as though I'm in a place where if I keep editing, if I keep making changes, then it will be to the book's determent." I think it's a gut thing, and something we have to come to trust. Easier said than done, I know - I'm not there yet myself.

  9. I love the beginning of this post! I wish I had some sound advice for you, but I don't. I started querying way too early (even though I thought I was done) and now I feel like I've wasted some opportunities. Send it to CPs and Betas - don't be shy about asking people to read your work. And good luck!

  10. I think you know that no one can really answer this question for you. It's not a great answer but the only one I have for you.
    Put away the red pen and let your work stand on its own. Maybe it will surprise you.

  11. I read your post, and then I read the comment section anxiously. I'm in much the same place. Yes, I need a few tweask here and there, but my storyline is done. I've been tweaking that way too much and started to change things back to the first draft (Alex's comment).
    From my limited experience selling short stories and poems, I know that I often don't feel finished but I feel . . .content - that's not quite the word, but . . . I just feel like I need to get it out there, and then I'm "Done." Of course I read the stuff later and see places it could be better, but oh well. Like many have already said, it's never really done done.

  12. So, what you're telling me is there's no button to press? No level to pull? Nothing like that? There's just... me?


    You all are lovely people. I appreciate you taking the time to humor my insanity.

  13. Well, after I get the manuscript back from the critique partners and make my changes based on their edits, I then read through it one more time to catch anything that might have slipped through. If nothing big is jumping at me at that point, then I just know I have to let it go and know that you did the best you could with how much you've learned as a writer.

  14. I'm feeling your paiin. I agree with Cherie. After my editor sends it back to me, I do her changes and let it go.

  15. I don't have any great advice either. Sorry. :( I think listening to your CPs and/or betas, and, ultimately, to yourself is the best you can do. Good luck!

  16. Wish I could help you, but I don't think there is ever an "end"... there could always be a better word, or a twist in character development, or a reordering of sentences/scenes. You just have to cut yourself off or it can go on forever.

    Maybe if you don't trust yourself, have new eyes look at it?

    Good luck!!

  17. I agree with everyone else. It's never really done. But it sounds like you're at the finish line, so let some betas read it. It's time to let it go.

  18. been there, still there... just got feedback from an agent saying my mc is a cliche... good thing i can fix that w/o changing him or the story, which she thought showed promise...

    cant please everyone, dont try, editing shouldnt change heart of story. good luck!

  19. M.J.:

    Get a beta-reader or three. I could read for you sometime in September since tomorrow I begin the Camp NaNo-Wri-Mo for the next 30 days.


  20. I'd advise you stop tinkering and let that thing trickle out to a few folks that you trust to give you some good, honest feedback. See if anything they tell you sounds plausible to you, then let that bad boy go.

    If you realize later that you made a huge mistake, you can pull it off the market.

  21. You're never done. Just like no one is ever ready to get married or have children or take that promotion or sell your house and move into a bigger one. But you know it's time to take that leap of faith and simply let go.

    Hope I'm not oversimplifying things and that this makes sense.

  22. I'll be asking the same question in about...okay a long time from now. Just finished draft number one. When I'm on draft 268 I'll be asking the same question.

  23. So many writers love editing, but I'm with you on not liking it very much! Best of luck :)

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  24. I read somewhere that if you feel like your writing is finished and "perfect", you're doing it wrong.

    Sounds about right to me.

  25. At some point you gotta admit to yourself you're tweaking just to edit. Editing is not an easy process, and no one likes to do it (well, except me, I prefer to edit than write the first draft) but it is necessary to catch all those technical errors, plot holes, character discrepancies . .

    Once you've fixed all those, and sent it to critique partners, and everyone agrees its ready to go, then its ready to go.

    The larger journey awaits you in the self publishing journey. I'm sure you will do well at that also.


  26. I'd add that when you start making changes that don't make it better, only different, then maybe it's time to stop. And I can't imagine any writer who is truly satisfied with their work. It's a testament that you care about what you do.

  27. I had about 20 different drafts of my first book and I now realize that I should have stopped by 5 or 6. When you feel you have done your best, then it is time to take a step back and let the chips fall where they may. There is a things like over-editing. Good Luck.

  28. I'm afraid I have no guidance to offer you in this area. But if you find out, lemme know!

  29. I can appreciate hose insecurities. I'm wondering have you shelved the MS for a few months so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective? It might be what you need to get the momentum going again. Good luck with it whatever you decide.

  30. Ah, the eternal conundrum. Are we ever truly finished?? Way I figure it, is after 5 or 6 betas, I can comfortable query in small doses. Then, after a few rejections with feedback, I have a better idea of how to change or fix what might not be working.

  31. I haven't come to the end of my edits, yet. I don't like edits, either. Any volunteers? LOL!
    Good luck with those decisions!

  32. There's a finish line? Oh thank God.

  33. If you read Donald Maass's Breakout Novel and still feel you're done, then--you are done! Yay! Hi MJ, I'm from IWSG.