Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Polishing and polishing again, when is it ever good enough?

I've worked almost all day yesterday, polishing the first three chapters of a middle grade mystery/suspense. I thought it was perfect months ago. By nine o'clock last night the first chapter didn't even come close to its former version.

 I think it's finished, again. This novel has been through two critique groups and submitted, then it was critiqued again, edited again, and sent out, only to be rejected. I put it away for a few months. When I pulled it out, I thought it would just need tweaking, but I was wrong. It wasn't that things weren't written correctly, it was that I saw possibilities that would make a stronger main character.

The thing that upsets me, now that I've changed the first part, I have to put away my present WIP and revise the rest of this novel to refine the character arc. First, though, I need to get busy polishing that terrible synopsis I thought was so wonderful.

Is it just me or do all writers grow and evolve so much that nothing will ever be good enough for our inner editor?

20 comments:

  1. It's good you let it sit, and that when you came back to it, you found things to make it stronger. That's great!

    Don't feel upset to temporarily let go of one ms to work on another because you're doing so to get the other out. And once it's out you can get back to work on the present WIP.

    And yes, sometimes things seem like they'll never be good enough... You're not alone.

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  2. It's not just you!! When I think about a manuscript I subbed to an agent a year ago, I shudder. Of course, at the time I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Now, I'm so embarrassed an agent read it.

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  3. Thanks, Andrea, I needed to hear that.

    Tessa, I know exactly how you feel. The first novel I ever wrote was an adult mystery that I entered in St. Martin's press first novel contest. I blush now when I read it. How could I ever even think it was a viable contender?

    I refuse to change one word and will always keep a copy. I like pulling it out now and then to see how far I've come :)

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  4. It's most definitely NOT just you! I echo - seriously, all of it - what Tessa said. Ugh!

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  5. I am laughing at this line "I need to get busy polishing that terrible synopsis I thought was so wonderful." Omigosh I love this! So very very true. We write, we love it, we think it's good even brilliant, then read it later and want to puke. Good luck with all your rewriting!

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  6. Probably none will ever be perfect, but keep striving and when the time is right, it WILL happen! :O)

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  7. Shannon, Karen, and Diane, thanks for the encouraging words;)

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  8. All writers evolve, or should. You should be happy that you've made such forward progress! I can only say this because I feel the same way, looking at older drafts. But I know it's frustrating when you thought you were close to done, but it turns out not. Hang in there!

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  9. I think the more we learn, the more we understand how much stronger a book can be. Does this ever stop? I don't know--still learning. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  10. I never know when to stop picking at a story and declare myself satisfied. On every read through I can find a word to be changed for another or I take a dislike to a whole paragraph and rewrite it.

    My hope is that as I become more experienced in my writing I will know when to stop editing.

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  11. "Is it just me or do all writers grow and evolve so much that nothing will ever be good enough for our inner editor?"

    It can be so frustrating, can't it? The way I try to look at it is that you can SEE your writing getting better. If you went back and read your older work and still thought it was perfect, that would mean you've stopped growing.

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  12. Susan, Angela, Christine, and Anna, I guess even when we're ready to send it out on submission we just have to accept the fact that we won't ever be completely satisfied. It definitely is frustrating:)but good thing there are editors ready to help us put the finishing touches on it :)

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  13. We are our own worst critics aren't we! And do you know what? that is absolutely a-ok! If we weren't then we would never progress from what we had before, in whatever we do.

    From what I have read from your blog, you are a wonderful writer, and at least you have the ability to criticise on work that you have come back to, some people do not do this and think they are wonderful on their own merit!

    My Great Uncle said to me once it is always best to write a letter and then put it in the draw and come back to it later. It gives us the much needed time away and then we can come back and read it, and correct when we have the appropriate time.

    Big Smiles. :D

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  14. Thank you, Abigail, for stopping by and commenting. It is great to meet new writing bloggers :)

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  15. Its great to meet writers like yourself Catherine. I am not a writer as such, but do love to write about little things I guess. :)

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  16. Hi Catherine,

    I enjoyed the post. That was one of the questions I had as a novice writer.

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  17. Most definitely. I've spoken with many seasoned published authors and they say that they are never satisfied with their final draft but there just comes a point when you stop. I think it's something you learn the more you change and grow as a writer. I think the most important thing for all of us to do is to keep writing new things and keep moving forward. Good luck!

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  18. Thanks, Sophia, I think I'm going to be asking myself that question with everything I write.

    Hannah, "there just comes a point when you stop."
    I think that says it all, the writer just has to let it go and send it off then move on.

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  19. Don't worry, I'm positive it will be a great piece. When it's done, you'll know. Just like my art, you must put it a way for a while to clear your mind and then continue. Stress of wanting to be finished can leave us tying ourselves in knots!

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