Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Inspired by Bird by Bird - Coming to the end

Off to a slow start today. Anne Lamott in the latest piece from Bird By Bird asks this question. How do you know when you're done? I think every writer has been in this place and asks this question, How many times can you go over a manuscript and make small changes like a for the her for the. The list could go on and on. Some writers go on and on with revisions and never seem to reach the end. The reason seems to be a quest for perfection. What I learned in this small essay is perfection is never reached. The end of a piece comes when you've done the best you can at this point in your career. Go back and look at your own early writings. They're usually not as wonderful as what you're doing today, but they were the best you could do at the time.

I have this feeling when I know the book I'm working on is done to the best I can do at the time. I become thoroughly sick or the characters. Thinking about doing one more read through makes me want to toss my guts. Then I know it's time to move on and find new characters to let into my life and become my latest obsessions.

How about you? Do you have a point at which you say "This is the best I can do. Need to send this out into the world."


Shoshanna Evers said...

I'm the same way - when I can't read the darn book one more time, I send it out.

I usually have at least one, sometimes more, beta-readers read it and give me feedback before I submit it to an editor. I've been saved from some pretty embarrassing mistakes that way! :)

Liz said...

I've only written two books, but it seems to be a three draft process with me - though the first draft is pretty clean because I've gone back and tinkered with it when I've come to a stand still.