Thursday, May 23, 2013

How do you know when you are done?

Before my current gardening binge and heavy editing workload started, a few weeks ago I emailed writer friends and asked them the simple question: How do you know when you are done?

I posed this question because I cannot seem to end stories anymore. My narrator and/or main character wants to just keep chatting away, telling me everything about their lives in that moment, trying to make sense of themselves. I hate to shut them up when it seems that they have been waiting for me to unearth them and give them a voice.

I suppose it's ironic that someone who makes her living as an editor is having trouble editing her characters. But perhaps it's not about editing. Perhaps it's because their voices fill a vacuum for me right now. I work from home and sometimes don't see another human all day except when the mailman drives by, nor talk to anyone except via phone.

Or perhaps it is because to end a story means that I have said everything I could have said, in the best way possible, within the tight constraints of one story. It is a fear of imperfection. Once done, a story needs to make its way out into the world; as long as it is just a "draft" is it my private belonging that no one can criticize or deem worthless.

I'll share in my next post the advice I've received and found about when a piece is "done."

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