I’ve never had difficulty adding words to things. If you listen to me talk you’ll hear the commas and parentheses as if they were actually coming out of my mouth. That situation is encouraged by the fact that I can count on one hand the number of times I regret, probably too strong a word, something that I’ve said. I just really don’t care what people think of me. Why give them that power if you don’t have to?
There are, however, times when you need to stop talking. The show’s over, the game is won or lost, and the story is told.
That is the situation I’m in now. My first novel Bad Habits is almost ready to be pushed out the door. I finished a third draft before I let my first reader at it. The fourth draft went to my freelance editor, Amelia Beamer. The busted up and sewn back together fifth was completed this week, and now I’m making sure I didn’t leave out a toe or a spleen in what is starting to feel like Frankenstein’s monster.
I’ve never been under the illusion that the writing process for something of this scope was a magical romp, where I would delicately tap out a fully constructed final draft in a weekend. I tend to edit as I write to the detriment of my WPM. It’s a process that many writing experts recommend against, but I’ve seen enough successful writers who say they share my method that I’m okay with seeing it as a style. Whatever works.
It’s not uncharted or even unexplored territory. More like Portland. I’ve never been there before, but there are maps and a whole gaggle of people who are there or who’ve passed through at one time or another. I can ask one of the residents, but ultimately it’s my decision whether to head to Cacao or Voodoo Donuts. It’s my decision when to head to the airport to get out of there.
The decision of when to pull the trigger and launch this novel into the world is approaching fast. I have a throng of final decisions to make before I upload my first literary child to Jeff Bezos’ care, but they are little ones compared to deciding when the story is not too long and not too short. It may be when I go through one more draft, or when I realize other things are winning out for my attention, but I’m starting to think it will be when I can’t stand looking at the thing any more.