Done? Or Is It a Wrap?

My two favorite words to write are “The End.”  But does that mean the book is really done?  I’d thought so before–several times on one particular book!  With shaking fingers last weekend, I finally hit “send,” and off went my troublesome manuscript to my publisher, meeting the deadline for production.

Many years ago, this book started with an image.  It was so vivid I couldn’t put it out of my mind.  Wondering what might’ve led up to this vivid image sent me to:

  • months of research,
  • and more months, interviewing potential characters.  Who would suffer the most as a result of all that research?
  • Brainstorming with critique group helped figure it out.
  • I threw in a couple of writing classes for skill building, which helped me write character sketches and a sketchy outline.
  • Then I spent months of writing the draft, and more months, digesting critiques.
  • Finally, I could revise and edit and shout, “It’s done!”

No, it wasn’t done.  The book was terrible.  Critical Voice told me so.  The best place for that book was my bottom drawer.

Time passed while I worked on other projects.  But that haunting image wouldn’t let me alone.  So, I took more writing classes, shoved Critical Voice into the drawer, and did more research.  And what do you know?

  • Some new characters knocked at my office door.  They’d heard there might be an opening for them.
  • A new plot emerged, and I wrote the next draft.
  • Then I repeated more months of writing the draft, and more months, digesting critiques.
  • And finally, I could revise and edit and shout, “It’s done!”

But it wasn’t done.

This time the editor pointed out to me that this story couldn’t be contained within only one book.  It was a trilogy.  At least.

So, I repeated the process twice more for two brand-new books, a few more writing classes, some more research, a lot more brainstorming, and a few other writing projects woven in along the way.

After all that, I could finally tackle the story of my vivid, haunting image.  Then came more months of writing the draft, and more months of digesting more critiques, of revisions and edits and writing “The End.”  Again.

Off it went to the editor, who said (guess what?):  No, it wasn’t done.  Now there were editorial corrections to make, and all those tweaks meant that I had to read it through one more time to whack more moles.

Did I get them all?  Probably not, which means the book is still not really “done.”  But it’s queued for production, and that makes it a wrap.

How do you know when a book is done?

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8 thoughts on “Done? Or Is It a Wrap?”

  1. I don’t. I’m still getting notes back on Book 1 while I’m trying to finish the first draft of Book 3. I lost counts of how many revisions I’ve done on Book 1.

  2. Congrats!!! That is so exciting. I haven’t managed to finish a book quickly yet either. We’ll, I have, but my editor seems to avoiding conversations about them. 🙂

  3. I think it was Leonardo daVinci who said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” I firmly agree. And I definitely feel your pain. It’s why I find it so hard to go back and read my old stuff. I’m still proud of it because it was the absolute best I could do at the time, but we continue to learn and grow so, of course, we can make it so much better now! Must … resist …

  4. Congrats on pushing send, Sue! You so accurately describe the writing process. Whenever I reach the inevitable point where I can’t fathom rereading another word of my manuscript, I know I’m getting close to being done. At least with that revision 😉

  5. Woot – Congrats on getting sem-done. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself. When is a book done–never. I wish it were otherwise. In reality, it’s as good as done because once those covers go on it’s as done as you can get it and you just have to pull up your boots, cross your fingers, and pray to the gods of the written word that you got most of it right. I recently took part in a reading…of my first book…and my mouth edited as it spoke. There’s always a better way.

  6. Mouth editing? That’s great, Kait! Love the daVinci quote, too. Glad to know I’m not alone in this!

  7. Great post! I have a boxed up manuscript I worked on for over two years. I’ll pull it out soon because another plot is calling to me for those characters.

    LoML and I have a term that signifies my book is finally ready for him to read: “done-done.”

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