Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When Do You Know?

“A talented writer can write women, men, dogs, pigs. They can write old people, young people. Does a writer have to be insane to write the part of someone insane? I know he has to be insane to want to be a writer, but that isn't the point.” - Dirk Benedict

I think I've used that quote before, but I absolutely adore it. Besides, with the return of the original (and *ahem* best) "Battlestar Galactica" on TV, I have Dirk Benedict on the brain.


First off, apparently Samhain Publishing was having a bit of trouble with their site or bookstore yesterday, and Ceri's (pronounced "carrie") book, "Sweet Forever", wasn't released until late last night. So, if you tried - and failed - to get yourself a copy, please try again today.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled post.

Yesterday, along with working on a short story that I found in my "incomplete" file and remembered how much I loved, I worked on revisions to my novel. As I tidied it up and posted an excerpt at my writing group for feedback, I got to thinking: When do you know it's done?

See... this book went through an initial edit with me, then I sent it to a writing friend with great instincts and talent (Hi, D!! *waves*). She went through the entire thing and gave lots of great input, which is what I'm working through now. So, technically, I'm on a third edit.

And yet, I'm still missing stuff (like duplicate words and phrases -- especially those I messed up due to cutting and pasting) and getting lots and lots and lots of input on how things could be done a bit better or made clearer. I'm working with this feedback as I get it, so the book it going through a fourth edit now as well.

How do you know when it's done?

Another friend is taking a short story writing course where the class lecture indicates it takes twenty drafts to get the story right, and up to three years! WHAT?!? And that's the time for a short story.

I imagine I could polish this novel until the cows come home, and someone out there would still have an opinion on how it could be better. At what point do you just bite the bullet and send it out?

My plan is to have this in the query stage by mid-to-late summer. After its third/fourth edit (actually, I won't have the time to post it all in my crit group, so will probably wing it at the end by myself). Guess time will tell if I think its done, won't it?

Have you entered my contest yet? Why not? You don't want a FREE BOOK?

And... just for fun:

What Your Hands Say About You

You are logical, analytical, and rational. You have good verbal skills.

Idealistic and dreamy, you tend toward the impractical. You have a knack for getting yourself in sticky situations.

Brainy and intelligent, you are intellectual to the point of being incomprehensible.

Your emotions tend to be nervous and potent. Your energy - both positive and negative - deeply impacts your life.


anno said...

Although I appreciate the instruction to revise one's drafts, asking for 20 drafts and 3 years is way too much! Just because it took me 9 years to finish my first essay is no reason to think I might agree. There was a baby, building a house, a lot of dinner parties -- stuff happened. I sure wasn't writing the whole time.

Grrr! I hate the idea that torture and misery are necessary ingredients of good writing.

You're done when you feel like you're done. Da Vinci had a hard time finishing projects to his clients' satisfaction; we still remember him.

Ceri said...

I've tivod BSG and watched an episode on Sunday. What's starbuckin anyway? What a hottie! And he's aged very well!

Things are still not right over at Samhain, but they're working on it. Oy.

20 revisions??? Before it can be sent out? I couldn't take that. But, that being said, I couldn't believe the boo boos I'd sent Finally Home out with. I thought I'd gone over it with a fine toothed comb, but I was wrong... oh so wrong. But it was a good learning experience, if nothing else. I work for a publisher and one of the women who receive manuscripts was joking about how many manuscripts she gets that have mistake after mistake in them. Man, I don't want to be one of those writers!

Tori Lennox said...

class lecture indicates it takes twenty drafts to get the story right, and up to three years!

Wow. That's even more than I think I do!

Ceri said...

Just an update. Sweet Forever is finally up for sale. They're still working on the site, so its not actually on the homepage, but the link is

Well, at least its there!


Shauna said...

Marianne, I just want to say that I love the quotes you use on your blog. Inspirational, quirky, thought-provoking, enlightening.

Great idea!

Melissa said...

20 drafts over three years for a short story will lead to one early death. They need to get someone else teaching that course.