Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Take a Breath

You know what I haven't blogged about in a while? Writing. Kind of ironic, since this is a writer's blog and all.

Here I am, in the home stretch of my big rewrite project. I'm about three chapters from the end, and I'm starting to feel a case of the "good enoughs" coming on. When I'm working on a project, with the end in sight and my energy flagging, I have a tendency to think things are just fine and dandy the way they are. Wall painting is a great example. A few drops on the woodwork? A few thin spots near the ceiling? Who'll notice? If I can live with it, so can everyone else, right?

Sometimes, that's true. But sometimes, the patches the drips and the streaks bother me.

And I'm not asking anyone to pay me for being a wall painter.

So, right now, it's taking all of my will power not to declare the last three chapters good enough and quit. I know they aren't, just like I know my painting skills leave a lot to be desired. There is improvement to be made in nearly every sentence and slacking on the ending will only serve to haunt me.

Let's say I get a request for a full manuscript from an agent. Let's say I get rejected. If I don't give the ending the attention it deserves, I'll always have to wonder if that was the reason for rejection.

It's time to take a deep breath and do what I'm supposed to do. No matter how much I want to get to the next step.

Which begs the question: In writing, when is enough enough?

- Liz


Kristan said...

I don't think there's any real answer to your question. The "good enough" line moves as we grow. What's good enough now may look like crap later. {shrug} You do the best you can; if you feel that you really have, then you can stop. But if you know (which you clearly do) that you're selling the story short, then you keep working.

It's one of the hardest instincts, I think, for a writer to develop, but it's also one of the most essential. :)

Jill Kemerer said...

Never! It's never enough. I am quite capable of finishing a project, meaning I've written, revised and edited it until it's as good as I can get it, but a few months later, I'll learn something new and realize the old book wasn't enough.

Maybe someday I'll have all the answers!

Eleven Eleven said...

It's hard to fix apathy. Not impossible, just really, really hard. Sometimes taking a break makes it better, sometimes it makes it worse.

Same thing with sheer teeth-gritting determination. Plowing through can reawaken or more thoroughly kill your interest.

Same thing with fresh perspectives. Other people's enthusiasm can be infectious or it can just make you nauseated.

I think your last three chapters are worth the effort, and I will endlessly hassle you if you don't give them their due.

Oh, I forgot about threats. Sometimes those work as well.

Liz Czukas said...

Kristan - You're right of course. It was more of a food for thought question.

Jill - Ugh, say it ain't so!

Eleven - Thanks to you, darlin', my ennui is cured.

Now if i could just get a solid 8 hours to write...

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

- Liz

Chris Campbell said...

I agree with Jill. I'm never satisfied when I think I'm "done." I always want to fiddle with my finished works--nothing drastic, more like on the word level. Why did I use "hungry" when "ravenous" paints a clearer picture--that sort of thing.

Ee Leen Lee said...

its enough when your writing muscle is worn out- along with your writing ligaments