Wednesday, February 1, 2012
When are you ~finished~ with your book?
A: Not even when you die.
Many authors celebrate the completion of their novel after the first draft. A fine example of this fictionalization is Stephen King's Misery, where his MC lights a cigarette and has a glass of wine following the last page of his first draft.
I think we are all smart enough to know the first draft is not your finishing point.
But how about after your first revision?
Again, most of us know you'll at least need two good passes to produce a readable manuscript.
How about after the editor gets through destroying everything you wrote, gutting you like the little fishy you are and feeding your guts to the gulls and laughing as she rips out your spine!
Well, it might sound like you're finished, but you're not. If the book goes to publication, you're just getting started. See, you'll have marketing to work on, and readings, and reviews, and so forth.
So maybe you're finished with that book after it's been in print a few years, right?
Again, we'll go back to King and I'll mention that I only recently read his book 'salem's Lot.
That was his second book, originally published in 1975, and as you can see, he's still not finished with it!
Alright, what about this: You DIE.
Are you finished with your book then?
Nope. A fine example of this is Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.
His original draft had been cut from 220kw to 160kw.* After his death, they found his original in his archives, as submitted to the publisher, and released it as "THE ORIGINAL UNCUT VERSION of the bestselling classic."
So even if you die, you might not be finished with your book.
There have been endless rewrites of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and of Shakespeare's plays, and of Homer's work, and you can keep going on and on and on if you like, but I feel my point is driven home.
The fact is this: You are ~never~ finished with your book. Your book is borne into the world and will live on with a life of its own.
As someone once said, I never finish my work. At some point, I just stop working on it.
How about you? Thoughts on this point? Do you feel like you are "finished" with one of your pieces?
* Source: Stranger in a Strange Land forward, reprint 1991