I recently put the brakes on the novel I had “finished” because I realized suddenly that I don’t know what the word “finished” means.
I thought it was the novel I wanted to write, but it wasn’t. It was incredibly flawed. I was introducing an author’s voice that I didn’t want to introduce and some of my characters were just flat-out not enjoyable.
I began gutting the work last weekend and have spent all of my extra available energy to right the ship and get the novel back on track. I think I’m succeeding, as far as I can tell.
One thing I noticed is that the more I read my writing, the more I want to change it. It truly is never done. A published book is only the final manifestation of the author’s work before he or she didn’t want to look at it anymore. But what if he or she did, look at it again, that is. Would it even be better?
I suppose the answer to that is ‘yes.’ There is no limit to re-writing and editing. I’m finding phrasing that I find appalling in my “finished” book. What was I thinking? The last time I read it it sounded great to me.
I suppose it has something to do with subjectivity consistently changing. What I think of on one day is completely different from what I think of on another day. Even my vocabulary is in constant flux. It grows, it shifts, it remembers things one day that it forgets another day. Nothing is consistent in the human mind and therefore no novel editing is consistent as well.
I’m glad I’ve decided to re-do this novel. It twill be better for it. Will it make a mediocre novel great? I have no idea. But it will make a mediocre novel better. And that’s all I can hope for.
Of course, if I had the patience of Job, I would re-do it several more times. But I’m not that righteous. So I guess I just have to live with the best I can do. I’m just glad I realized that what I did, was not my best work.
Here’s to learning!