Years ago, when I first started writing books, I believed I could “finish” a manuscript…
What a naïve fool I was.
I can’t even get a blog post to the point of perfection, much less an 80,000-word manuscript! Seriously, on the way to write this, I clicked open an old post and had to restrain myself from editing it when I noticed that switching the word “totally” to “completely” would make it SO MUCH better.
That compulsive, quixotic quest for the illusive myth of “Done” has given me more than one stupid headache over the past few months as I’ve been getting OUTSHINE published. How many times have I re-uploaded the manuscript to Amazon after making changes? Fourteen. How many sub-plot and dialog revisions do I still want to do? Easily a dozen. But part of my impetus in publishing OUTSHINE was to just stop working on it. I want to dive fully into my new WIP without taking side trips to revisit Gabe and Jessa.
One of the addicting elements of revising is how much better a manuscript gets with each revision round. Certainly, something that is readable and entertaining after revision round #5 could be a flat-out masterpiece after revision round #47, right?
For many writers, a manuscript is “done” when an agent, editor, or deadline forces it to be considered finished. For others, that point comes only when the writer would rather saw off her own fingers than write another word. Knowing when to draw the line and say “Enough is enough!” is a skill I am still perfecting. How do you know when your manuscripts are ready to query or self-publish?