No Novel Is Perfect. Ever.
“I'm astounded whenever I finish something. Astounded and distressed. My perfectionist instinct should inhibit me from finishing: it should inhibit me from even beginning. But I get distracted and start doing something. What I achieve is not the product of an act of my will but of my will's surrender. I begin because I don't have the strength to think; I finish because I don't have the courage to quit. This book is my cowardice.”
Yesterday, I met my deadline. I did it. I wrote and wrote and wrote like FOR-EV-ER...and this time (after two previous failed attempts) made my third (yes, third) extended deadline. It is done. The manuscript is in my editors' hands. I've turned it over and now I wait for content edits to come back my way. It's about freakin' time.
I should be delighted. I should be shouting from the rooftops. Yet, I sit here, staring at the submitted manuscript, thinking I could've done more.
I can't sit here and wait for content edits -- I NEED to do more. I really shouldn't even be writing this blog. I should be fiddling with my work. I should be tweaking away at it RIGHT NOW! Shoot! Did I really submit THAT?
Poop! I think I'm going to start messing around with it again. . . .
Then that got me thinking: When is a book DONE? I mean done-done?
I don't know that they ever are. I don't think there is one book out there that is absolutely perfect. Oh, I think there are books that are near perfect, and can think of several that left me in awe. But could they have been better? Yes. There's always room for better. If you don't believe me and think you know a PERFECT book out there, I want you to go to Amazon and take a look at some of the reviews for that "perfect" book. You may have thought it was perfect, but I'm certain there is someone out there that totally disagrees with you.
And there it is. . . No perfect books.
Oh, there are some things in life where you only get one chance to be perfect--a sniper comes to mind, they usually have to get it right on the first shot--but a as a writer/author, the process to keep doing it over and over and over is a daunting one. There is always editing, fixing, adding, deleting. . . . But at some point the writer has to stop. At some point the writer has to say, "I think this is pretty good. I'm satisfied." Or else there would never be completed books on a shelf for anyone to read.
"Perfect is the enemy of the good. Write till it’s good, not till it’s perfect. Because you don’t know *** about perfect. Aim squarely for a B+, and then it’s time to let others have a shot in getting the novel to that A/A+ range."--Chuck Wendig
So that's what I'm doing. I'm handing it over and hoping for some help and fresh eyes to give me perspective (and my editors are awesome at that). It will never be perfect. I will please some and I will offend others, but until this book is bound and sitting on a shelf. . . I'm going to keep screwing around with it, because, well. . . I can.
And also because I'm a masochist, so it seems.
6/3/2013 11:58:47 pm
I only revised "Forgive Me, Alex," about 30 times, so I have no idea what you're talking about. :p
6/4/2013 08:43:22 am
I've had a few writer friends ask on twitter when others thought a novel was finished. I think for everyone it's different, but in the end, the book isn't perfect, but you feel it's as close as you can get.
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