Monday, February 8, 2010

In Which I Discover It's Fun To Talk About Myself

This week I'm thinking about technology and how it affects our writing and reading process. But also, this weekend I realized that I do a lot less personal posting on this blog than I do about process and structure and all of that, and as it's my blog, I want to probably include more personal accounting of things. So I thought I'd start out by saying what I did this weekend in terms of writing. This is a slight compromise; it's still about writing but it's about me.

I did some pretty decent work on the ending of my novel this weekend. Now, the whole thing is written and has been for a while, but I've been revising and editing for um, oh let's say many months now. I set a deadline for myself for November to be done, thinking that I'd actually do more if I had a deadline (and after all, everyone says you should have deadlines), but November came and went and the novel wasn't ready. Then I set the end of January for myself thinking I'd get loads done over the holidays when in fact I did not. It's still not ready. Now I've set a deadline of September. By September, it should damn well be ready.

But just in case, I won't beat myself up in case it's not ready. I really feel strongly that you have to intuitively feel that it's right and ready for it to actually be ready. The worst thing to do is query or put the novel out there when it's not ready. When I've mentioned my deadlines to people who've read my novel, none of them have said "Wow, cool." Instead, they've said, "Ha ha better put some hard work in between now and then," or something to that effect (I'm sure I was reading between the lines). This did not help matters. At all.

Anyway, this weekend I felt great about the last four chapters of my novel--great as in, no niggling feeling that something is off. How cool is that? Now I only have to get that feeling about 23 other chapters!

Anyway, technology. Well, I'm pretty thankful that we're not banging our hearts' desires out on typewriters because man, it would take years more than the ones it's taken already.

So, how do you know if a section (or the whole book) is finished? Are you querying on projects that you think still has a little room for improvement, but is as good as you can stand?


Travener said...

I think books -- OK, my books -- are only finished in stages. First draft finished = 90% complete. Second draft, 95%. Third, 98%. Etc. I've done at least fourteen drafts and I would say it's now 99.9% done. There's always something more to perfect, but at some point you just have to let go.

Until an editor tells you to revise the whole thing, of course.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

It's done when, the 10 millionth time I proofread the thing, I don't make any changes. It's really done when others then comment on it and I edit to take those comments into account and once again get to the point where I'm not changing more than a very occasional word. For the novel I am querying, for a while I was pretty confident I couldn't make it any better (though I always supposed that an agent or editor could give me advice that would make it better). I was forced to chop a couple of hundred words off my first chapter for the Amazon contest, though. I was genuinely surprised that: a) I was able to do it at all, and b) it actually read better. The rest of the novel could maybe also use some tightening up, especially since I've stepped away from it for so long now and could probably bring some perspective to bear on it. On the other hand, with a whopping one partial request after 40-something queries (and that one rejected the same day), maybe I've got more to worry about than whether Chapter 13 is appropriately spare, you know?

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