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Friday, September 18, 2009

My Work Is Never Done!

So I finished organizing my shoes, and I tripped over this mess of kids' shoes. Just when I thought I could rest, a new mess came along. But isn't that life? Isn't that the way things usually go? We put out fire after fire, only to find a new one just around the corner. It's all good, though, because we really like putting out fires, don't we? Just like keeping all of our shoes organized is a continuous process, so is keeping our writing up to par. After rounds and rounds of revisions, we still may come across new messes that need cleaning up. Perhaps we learn a new rule while fixing something else, or maybe we already knew the rule but didn't realize we were breaking it. Either way, it is an ongoing process. So how do we know when we are finished? Well, your guess is as good as mine. I'd like to think that we will just know. We will look around our houses and not see one single mess that needs cleaning. We will be so proud of our houses that we wouldn't bat an eye if our most cherished celebrity came to spend the weekend with us. There will be no pile of shoes to trip over. That's how I envision it. What about you? Do you have an idea of how it will feel when you are finally done editing and revising? Will you know without a doubt that you are ready to submit? Yep! You guessed it. It's Friday, and that means the Silver Shoe of Sincerity Award must be passed on to someone. It is all about sincerity in blogging and to find out more click here. The recipient can choose to pass it on (which makes me smile) or not (I don't hold grudges). It's entirely up to them. So without further ado, this week's recipient is Wendy at All in a Day's Thoughts. Wendy was the first person to comment on my blog, and she may not even remember. But she made me smile that day because she reached out to me. If you don't already follow her blog, go visit it. You will come away inspired. I promise. Have a great weekend everyone!

42 comments:

Amy Tate said...

I love discovering new blogs through your Silver Shoes, Miss Susan. And as far as editing and revising goes, I'm a chicken picker. My grandmother used to love fried chicken. Drum sticks were her favorite. She would pick every little morsel on that thing until it was completely bare. By the time she'd finished, everyone had left the table. And editing reminds me of chicken picking.

Stephanie Faris said...

I guess you could always do more revising but I have a system...deadlines. And I will revise once, make all my changes, then I put it out there. Not saying it's the best way, since I'm still not published!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I thought I knew. Right now I still believe that I queried too early, meaning that my query wasn't strong enough. But now I'm wondering more about my story. I'll let you know if I ever get it to that editorial service or not. :0)

Karen said...

Someone (that may or may not have been Leonardo DaVinci) said, "Art is not finished, only abandoned."

I think, in some ways, it's like that with writing. I don't anticipate that I will ever feel 100% like my novel is "ready" but there will come a time when I take a deep breath and know that it's as finished as I can make it.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Susan,
For reasons difficult to even put into words (if you can believe it) you reached in and grabbed my heart today. This award means a lot and your words mean even more!

As far as knowing whether I'm finished with something, my litmus is whether or not I can stop squirming when I'm reading. Can I sit still and read it or am I still reaching for the pen?

~ Wendy

Natalie said...

I thought I was done the first time I submitted (last spring). Then I got some agent advice and revised for a few more months. I thought I was ready again in August. I guess it was good enough, but I've been amazed as I've revised this last week at how rough it was. The problem is that as we practice we keep getting better at writing and it's hard not to revise forever.

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

For me, I'll know I'm done when I can look through the manuscript and I don't come up with a laundry list to tweak.

Right now as I write the first draft of Lodestar I am beginning to keep a checklist of issues to address in the first round of edits. I know it would be easier to just fix them now, only being 5,040 words in, but if I start to edit, I'll get stuck editing and won't move forward.

Angie Muresan said...

I admire all the previous commentators in that they at least have a manuscript. My book is all in my head, where I guess I can say I've revised it a million times!

Angie Muresan said...

Oh, I forgot to thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. So, thank you... I really feel honored! :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Janna Qualman said...

I love Amy Tate's chicken picking analogy!

Congrats to Wendy, and have a great weekend, LW!

jbchicoine said...

I can’t tell you how many times I thought my novel was finally finished, done, complete. At this point, I’m convinced that when it is finally brought to completion, it will not be the result of a feeling—it will be a decision.
Now, to settle on the criteria for that decision…

Leah Rubin said...

I think reading things out loud tells you a lot about whatever it is that you're working on. I can't tell you how much good that has done for me.

Regina Milton said...

I agree with Leah that reading out loud tells you a lot. For me, there is a time I read over it and I finally don't have the obsessive need to fix this or that anymore. It is a great moment. A moment in which you "just know" it is done.

Abby said...

Someday I'll actually be finished? Really? ;) I don't know how I'll know. I've thought I was done before only to realize I still had a lot of work to do. It's definitely a learning process, and the more I learn, the more I think I'll never feel like it's really finished. I just have to figure out when I'm comfortable with letting it go.

Congrats to Wendy on the award! :)

L. T. Host said...

Oh great. All of you are making me question if my novel is really done now or not!

It's ok, though, I made the decision... I'm sticking by it. :)

jbchicoine said...

L.T.,
Then it is just a matter of finally making the decision?

The pale observer said...

Thanks for the link to Wendy's blog - it's great to find new blogs through great recommendations.

And housework is never done... as long as there are humans living in the house!!!

Jill Kemerer said...

Sifting and tripping over shoes never goes away. Much like revising and editing--wonderful post! I love Wendy's blog!

I've heard many "I queried too early" comments over the past year, but I disagree. Every response has given me insight into how to make my writing better. Even the form rejections made me sit back and analyze my work. Most authors get rejections. We don't have to look at them as "oh, I queried too early" as much as "oh, that's what I need to improve."

Have a wonderful weekend!

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh boy! Do I have kids shoe messes in my house.

As to your question, I wondered about this too. How will I know? And I came to the conclusion that I could edit my MG story until the cows come home or until I die. It would always need something. So I have to believe that when I can read it straight through and not grab a pencil or the backspace key, then it MUST be ready!

And I have decided it is ready. Because you know yourself Susan, in published books you can find mistakes. That writer decided that the MS was ready. We have to do that too. It's scary. But we CAN do this! :) Have a great weekend. Don't forget tomorrow is a holiday. Talk Like a Pirate Day. WOOHOO! :)

FictionGroupie said...

I've submitted, but I don't know if I ever feel like the manuscript is totally ready. I can always find something I want to tweak. But if I keep doing that, I'll never get it to anyone. So I get is to where I feel it's 95% there, then step away.

Cindy said...

Congrats on the award, Wendy! Wendy's blog is wonderful.

I struggle with knowing when a manuscript is completely polished and finished and ready to submit. Whenever I think I'm done, then I find something else. I just have to go through each edit and once I'm done realize if I keep going I might be pushing it too far.

Glynis said...

I am dreading the editing and revising stages, but I am sure I will feel relieved when it is done.
I had to smile, my daughter had to remove a large collection of her shoes to accomodate us recently. She was delighted to find ones she had forgotten about!

ElanaJ said...

Interesting question, and one I think most writers struggle with. We know that more editing and revising will come, even after an agent and an editor. So how do we know when we're done? I think it's a gut thing. I think we know how much we've worked on it. If it's our best. We've had fresh eyes look at it. We've given it some time alone. We know if there's still that one section that isn't sitting right. We may not know how to fix it, but we know it's not "done." It's all in the gut.

Lily said...

Of course, I'm not there YET... but it has crossed my mind. Will I be overly confident and send off a crappy ms, or will I be overly critical and never get it in the mail? Hopefully, I will be somewhere in between...

Jenn Johansson said...

Isn't it so hard to know? I thought maybe I was done with it at one point--but it was more of a "I've done as much as I can do with it--I think" kind of done than an actual "Wow, it's really done--I'm afraid if I mess with it anymore it will actually ruin it. Isn't it so sparkly?" Now that I've seen what it feels like to feel the 2nd way... I feel like I know when it's done. It was a long road to get there though.

Patti said...

I thought I did, but then I had a beta reader say "No not there yet." So hopefully I will venture into one more round before submitting with the knowledge that they'll be more to come.

Girl in My Own World said...

When I am done with my first novel! I will be on top of the world! And want everyone to read it! :o)

Girl Meets Gun said...

I wish putting out fires in life was as easy as the delete button, though. Bleh.

lol.

I'm so glad my man has ONE pair of shoes. I'm the only person with piles of flip flops and shoes laying everywhere. It took me a long time to finish my very first novel, but I knew when it was done as soon as I typed the last sentence. I didn't plan to be done; it just was. Editing? Whole different story...Still working that fire!

WhisperingWriter said...

Well, I'm not done with my novel yet so I'm not sure how I'll feel. I suppose I'll just know. I hope.

Strange Fiction said...

I haven't reached that stage yet but I'm definitely looking forward to finding out what the answer to that question is!

Terri Tiffany said...

Yay to Wendy:)) I was done with my book and then discovered a rule I'd broken! Ugh! So I went back and fixed it. Makes me always wonder what else is wrong!

storyqueen said...

I am asking myself those exact questions right now.....

(no easy answers, I'm afraid.)

Shelley

Corey Schwartz said...

My work is never done either! I must have done six loads of laundry this week and then as I went to put my son in eh bath tonight I passed the hamper.. and to my shock and horror, it was FULL! How is that possible?

Beth said...

Ugh, I don't know if I'll ever "know" I'm done. I will probably question every last detail until they (whoever "they" may be!) pry it out of my kung-fu grip (wishful thinking perhaps).

Congrats to Wendy - she totally deserves that sparkly shoe. She's a gem!

Suzanne said...

I just blogged about this. Not as well ;)

AND I'm supposed to be finishing, not blogging, BUT IT"S HARD!

Eternally Distracted said...

I don't think jobs are ever made to be 'done', there is always room for more mess ... living with a partner who is worse than a kid doesn't help either! ;0)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Susan! I just stopped by Cindy's blog and wanted to share the same thing with you that I did with her. I think it fits your topic for the week, though maybe not directly for this post... Anywho...

One day this week you talked about keeping scenes that you had to scrap that were really good. I did that by accident a few years ago. I wrote a book that was more for the process of learning to write a book than it was for publication. There are just too many things wrong with it. But the third chapter used to knock the wind out of me because it seemed so good. So I took the first half of it out and realized that it could stand on its own as a short story. I edited the life out of it and sent it off... and it was purchased by a major Christian mag. They never printed it (BOO!), but the editor now has a different magazine and she's going to use it in December.

Anywho... that's another possible use for "scraps". Have a great weekend!

And congrats to Wendy, by the way! I forgot to say that yesterday!

Robyn Campbell said...

Ahoy, my pal. Me be bringin' ye some grog for yer pirate talkin' lesson! :)

Margo said...

I don't think anything is ever "finished" - and it's a character flaw. I have to stop myself if I'm reading over and over and obsessing and essentially have entire passages memorized - there's a feeling that creeps in - I'll get ridiculously insecure about something I've written that in a saner moment thought was pretty okay :)

Laura Martone said...

Feeling finished (at least temporarily) about housework is one thing. I know I'm done when I've made the bed, swept and vaccuumed, emptied the hamper, filled the dish rack, fed the kitty, cleaned her litter box, and put out the trash. Then I cross them off my to-do list (yes, I keep track of chores - how else will I remember to do them?) so that I can feel productive for a half-second... and then I remember that I still have three blog posts to write, other blogs to visit, a magazine article to finish, a novel to finish beta-reading, a hubby to pay attention to, an exercise routine to attempt, faraway family members to call... and that my own novel will never be done.

Oh, I finished writing it all right, but I'm not so sure it will ever be DONE. I'll let you know the answer to "Will you know without a doubt that you are ready to submit?" when I reach the other side of revision... which keeps getting farther and farther away. Is this boat drifting backwards, or what?

Dawn VanderMeer said...

It's a great question because so many of us start querying too soon. I edit until I feel my ms is the best I can make it (taking into account crit group feedback). I set it aside for a few weeks and go through it again. I hope to be finished at this point and usually think I am, but something often sneaks up and tells me to revise again. So I do. You're right--it is like cleaning the house!

Lori said...

When I write a poem I know when it's over. It's easy to know about a few lines. With whole novels though, I wished I knew. It never seems perfect. It never seems enough. Or maybe someday it will? I'm hoping.