Sunday, June 23, 2013

When is a manuscript finished?

When is a story or a manuscript finished?
I think mine is finished when it’s perfect. You know, after that first draft, and after I go through it for the sixth or seventh time, editing, tweaking, adding, subtracting, and polishing. Okay, maybe the eighth or ninth time. What? Still not perfect?
Newsflash: mine will never be perfect by anyone’s standards—especially not by mine, my editor’s, my readers’ or my publisher’s. Therefore, it will never be finished. Does that mean I stop? No, it means I quit.
Nobody knows what perfect means. Of course we all type The End, when we are finished. However, The End to me, doesn’t mean it’s really finished. It simply means I quit.
I don’t mean quitting here in a bad sense. It means I will quit re-writing, editing, polishing, tweaking, listening to critics and making changes. Quitting means that I am confident that the story or manuscript is the best that I can make it. Quitting means that it’s ready to let loose to the world.
I quit only after editing, rewriting, and polishing. Am I speaking doublespeak? No. I absolutely edit, re-write and polish. But only enough to get me to a place where I can quit. So is the story, manuscript finished? Probably not. But I will quit and publish it.
A friend of mine, a talented artist once told me that his paintings were never finished. He simply quit painting on them.
So it is with my manuscripts.

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