One of the great contradictions of professional writing is that it attracts control freaks, and then removes almost all control from them. You’ve got very little control over what will sell, or if, or how. Once it does sell you’ve got very little say in anything related to production, publicity or package.
The one thing we do have control over is the story itself, and that’s the important part, right? So it’s okay to obsess over it. In fact, it’s vital to obsess over it. Every word must be carefully chosen and placed, and it must be rewritten and rewritten until it is perfect, no matter how long it takes. Right?
Ummm…right. Up to a point. At some point you just have to declare it done. It’ll never be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist, especially not for the author because you know where all the seams are and the location of each and every buried body. The more you rewrite the more seams and buried bodies there are going to be. You just have to dig deep and say it’s good enough, and let it go.
The inability to stop rewriting is one of the manifestations of the great writing fear; fear of failure.
I’ve done a lot of talking about writing and publishing. I’ve talked about how to find ideas, how to perfect ideas, how to find your market, put together a professional manuscript and query letter and send it out. In all this time, I’ve said there’s one thing I don’t know how to teach, and that’s how to finish. I don’t mean how to write an ending. I mean how to finish, to complete a manuscript, stop writing it, declare that it is as good as you can get it, and get it out the door.
I’ve never had a problem with this aspect of the craft/business. I write, I finish, I send out, I start the next. I started doing this in high school, and I’ve been doing it ever since. And I pray to all the divinities who take pity upon fools and writers that I never will lose this ability.
But I’ve seen plenty of people who can’t manage it. They are talented writers with solid ideas, and they just can’t, or won’t finish. There can be a number of reasons for this. Finding out how much work writing actually is is a big one. Or Real Life might toss a major detour in your way. These things happen. But there are reasons beyond this. Of these, the biggest, the most persistent, is fear.
So I thought I’d do a series about fear as it relates to writing, talk some about what it is, and what it isn’t, and maybe look at some ways to deal with it.
And another deadline bites the dust…
The proposal for THE CLOCKWORK CUCKOO is finished, and in the email to Bantam. Cross your fingers, folks.
Now onto the next romance for Berkley.
Busy, busy, busy…