Right now I’m under a couple of tight deadlines and a little less clingy to my works-in-progress. But last year, I fiddled with my manuscript just about every waking hour (this would be the book that’s being released in August.) I couldn’t decide when it was done. I mean, editing and rewriting are completely necessary and a vital part of writing. But when do you know that you’re done? When do you know when you’ve finally dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s and are ready to send your baby off into the big, bad world?
I don’t really have an answer to that question. Now I think that when my deadline day comes then, obviously, I need to have something ready to send in that is as perfect as I can possibly make it.
I think, also, that I got to the point last year where my rewrites were actually making things worse and not better. Do you know what I’m talking about? It seemed like I’d just starched some darned scene and ironed it out flat. Grammatically beautiful but I’d lost the soul of what I’d originally written. That’s when I printed the manuscript and sent it off. But it would have been nice to have known before that point that I was done.
I was thinking today about how I broke my children of their pacifier habit. I know this seems like a complete non sequitur, but bear with me. They were determined little suckers (oooh, I’m punny today) and slept with the darned binkies. Actually, they did everything with them but eat with them in their mouths. So one day we went to the party supply store and got a bunch of helium balloons. A lot of helium balloons. I tied every one of their little binkies onto them and we went out to a park. There we stood in the middle of the park and I handed my children the balloons. They let them go and it was a spectacular sight, let me tell you. The balloons were a vivid splash against the blue skies and they soared off. My children waved at the balloons as they left. They didn’t ask for them that night at bedtime because they KNEW the pacifiers were gone. They were off in space, as far as they could tell. And they had a nice toy in their place.
I’m thinking this is how I need to approach my writing. I need still need to rewrite ad nauseum, but now I’m approaching it differently. I need to move on after I’ve submitted. When the edits come in, I’ll work on them, but then get back to my work-in-progress. I need to figuratively attach that submission to a bunch of balloons and move on. Work on the next story. Not have empty-nest syndrome over the end of that project or get too wound up in the reviews that come out later. To remember that I’ve done my best.