Writers’ Secrets 8: The End?

Finally. The writer’s had an idea. Thought about it for years. Written it. Edited it. Edited it a few more times. Found it doesn’t work. Rewritten it. Edited the rewrite. Edited the rewrite a few more times. Found that doesn’t work. Rewritten it again. Edited that rewrite. Again. And again. Until now.

Now it’s finished. Or at least, the writer is finished with it. Can’t do any more to it. If they have to look at it again they’ll rip their eyes out.

They’ve had enough.

I used to agonise over when something was finished. Could it ever be finished? I like to think I’m always learning, always improving, becoming a better writer but if this is true how can anything I write ever be finished? Surely I’ll always be able to improve on it, because I’m always improving.

And I think the truth is that it is never finished. Not really. It just gets to a point where you can live with it. Or where you’re happy to ignore it. Where it’s as good as you can get it, at that time.

Besides, even if it is ‘finished’ and you stop working on it, you might go back to it later. Give it another once over. If you’re lucky enough to get a publishing contract, you’ll have to go back and edit it, in accordance with their requirements. And then the editor(s) will edit it further. And then the proof-reader(s) will have their turn.

So maybe it’s only ‘finished’ when it’s in print. By then it’s already out there – a physical thing. You can’t change that word. You can’t fix that typo.

Not until the next edition, anyway.

Next week: what happens next?

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