Monday, March 7, 2011

Any good?

I've got a conference coming up in a few weeks (in the UK!!! So! Psyched!) and I spent the entire day re-reading WIP3.

It's good. It's actually good.

I know I have edits to do. I have to add some setting depth and flesh out some details. And do a line edit or 20. But the plot is solid and the characters fairly rock. There's even like a theme!

Still, I know I'm not done yet.

But it set me to wondering, how do you know?

In the finite sciences, there are answers. This is right. That is wrong. There is one way (or at most, a few) of doing things. In the subjective world, there's no such thing. It's all in your gut.

Does he like me?

Did I do the right thing?

Will this work out for the best?

Is this book good?

It's all guesswork. We can never know for sure. That's the scary thing.

That's the beauty. It could be good. It could be great. It could be as close to perfect as humanly possible.

But you'd never know.

Short and sweet. That's what's on my mind this Monday.

How do you know when you're ready?


E.J. Wesley said...

I've pondered this a lot myself ... For me, I think it would be when I'm confident that I've spent enough time editing that I can't make any specific thing better or more polished. Plus, it would be when my most recent beta feedback is coming back with ONLY style related comments. In other words, the plot is sound, the characters are good, no glaring grammar issues, no missing threads or incomplete storylines, etc.--basically, the only recommendations you're getting are reader opinions. 'Cause you'll always get those! :-) I think that's when you're done.

Although, most of what I've said is kind of a 'feel' thing, so maybe that's just it: You'll just kind of know?

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

Anecdote time!

Recently I participated in a Shakespearean monologue performing competition. I'd won for my school, I'd been advised by my school's director, and when I went in, I was confident in the monologue I'd chosen and my interpretation of it. After my performance, I thought I'd done a solid job and had a good shot of making it to the next round. I was very happy with what I'd done and I thought I had a good audience reaction.

In any audience, there will always be three people who don't like you: one who just doesn't like the piece, one who doesn't like you, and one for whom you don't match up for what they're looking for.

For me, that happened to be the judges. So I didn't go to the next round. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, and despite how well you did, it just doesn't work. Sometimes, you walk away with the top prize and you aren't happy with your own performance, and that's no good either.

If you can say for yourself that fundamentally, you are a good writer and you wrote a good book, you have already beaten the writer's number one enemy. Victory is yours, mami. Best of luck.

jbchicoine said...

I'm never really sure. I suppose I feel there's always a way to make something better, but that's my perfectionism coming out--not necessarily healthy. I do think there is a lot to be said for letting a project sit for a while--getting some distance that allows for objectivity. Even then, it can be hard to know--perhaps it's a matter of just feeling plain old SO DONE with a project that you can't stand to labor over it any longer.
Best wishes for you with your current project! :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Good question. I have to do yet another revision, this time on voice. But it's like please, can I please someday feel it's done enough to submit.

Marsha Sigman said...

I think when you are so sick of it you can't stand to look at it

I don't think a person's writing is ever 'ready' or done. Just have to trust you've done your best at some point and stop picking at it.