Friday, June 5, 2015

More on Finishing

I’ve just finished yet another round of edits, revisions, and cosmetic alterations to my novel. I think some of my changes have been good, worthwhile, and have added more dimensions to the whole. Others, however, I’m not so sure about. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m spinning my wheels so to speak. If the little tweaks I’m making here and there are a waste of time.

I’ve wanted to stop for awhile now, but issues, sometimes important ones, just kept popping up demanding to be dealt with, such as expanding my ending to include something more than the protagonist’s internal dialog and exposition.

Then I got my latest issue of Writer’s Digest. The July/August issue has an article titled “Creativity Deconstructed.” It contains a compilation by Jessica Strawser of inspirational tips and helpful insights.

I naturally homed in on the section about “Turning Pages into Books.” I found a couple of quotes on finishing a book that caught my eye. They are the following:

“…It requires us to assess what we’ve already written to determine what’s working and what’s not; to revise and refine our work. It requires our willingness, in effect, to rethink what we’ve written as we decide how to shape our work, and to jettison what doesn’t fit, and to write completely new material as required,…”

This is where I am now. I’m looking at the shape of things, how the pieces fit together. I’ve tried to segregate my villains according to the messages I want them to deliver. I’ve made efforts to answer the questions my Beta readers have asked. I’ve deleted sentences, whole passages in some places, and written new material for others. I’ve gotten the message.

As for the other quote:

“I work until I’m finished, not until the book’s finished. The book is never finished,… To complete a book we must accept that it won’t be perfect.”

This isn’t an unusual dilemma for artists. This settling on a stopping point. I came across it in the jewelry I used to make. I’ve seen other artists deal with it, too. When to put an end to a project. When overworking doesn’t add anything useful. When to just accept the piece “as is” and move on.

This might be the hardest idea for me to grasp, the idea of living with imperfection, after all Our Side of Perfect is the current working title. The original working title was Picture Perfect. Do you see a pattern here? I do and it bothers the OCD in me.

I hadn’t thought of the end of my novel as coming to terms with imperfection. I guess I’ll have to start thinking about this aspect of the end.

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