Posted by Eileen Astels
This is a question I personally struggle with day in and day out. I pray that once I reach a certain point in my learning curve, that the number of required revisions for my work will be exponentially less than where it stands now. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have revised my very first novel that I wrote nearing four years ago. Way too many, is the answer that comes to mind. And yet, I'm still seeing improvement with each pass through, so it can't be too many, can it?
Since that first novel, I have written two others. But I continually bounce back to my very first baby, in an attempt to freshen it up with what I've learned along the way. I want that first novel to really come to life. But why? Why can't I let it go? Will I ever be ready to say: Enough is enough?
What do I keep revising that causes so many run-throughs, you might ask?
Well, there's the fleshing out of my characters, there's the trimming of unneeded backstory, word tightening (how I love to search for adverbs and adjectives that replace a grouping of insignificant words), invoking all the senses wherever possible, improving the general flow of my sentences and paragraphs (this is a biggy for me), infusing emotion, building more conflict, adding a sprinkling of humor where it is lacking, discovering redundancy and fixing it, the list goes on and on. I'd add being a grammar police to this list too, but I fear what I am fixing might still be wrong, since grammar isn't my strong suit. That, I'll have to leave for a professional to help me with once I'm finally satisfied with my work.
So when will I be satisfied? If ever?
My husband keeps telling me to think "good is better than perfect" when I drone on about how tedious a job writing has become. I have difficulty accepting that in this hugely competitive publication world. I don't believe we writers have that luxury. We better revise until we feel it's as perfect as we can possibly make it. But then, there's the serious writerly commitment to never stop learning, always keep studying the craft of fiction writing to keep improving. With that logic, I have to wonder if there will ever be a point when I'm able to say enough is really enough, and release my baby into the submission phase.
I'm left to prayer, here. Prayer is the only answer I feel I have to release me from this writerly conundrum. I pray that when God feels my writing is good and ready for me to be proud of, He'll give me a sense of peace, and a drive to begin submitting to publishers and/or agents in a serious attempt to reach the culminating goal of publication. He has much to teach me along the way, perseverence and commitment are just a couple.
So, what about all of you? How do you come to the decision to submit your babies? What sound advice can you all offer? I would love to hear your thoughts on how to know when enough is enough.