Last thoughts before starting again

I’ve given myself enough of a break from the “final” rewrite of my WIP. The holidays are over, with their observations and obligations, their visitations and celebrations, and I intend to get back to it tomorrow, Saturday. I hope to drive through it in a few days so that I can keep a consistent voice in mind as well as keep all of the details fresh in my head since so much depends on what comes before.

Even so, I was startled (and a little pleased) when two ideas recently pushed their ways into my head and suggested themselves as colorful and subtle additions to the early part of the novel, which will prepare the reader for later developments. They are such good ideas that I’m annoyed that I hadn’t thought of them back when I was drafting the early chapters. (To be honest, however, the second one I couldn’t have seen then because the development it prepares the reader for hadn’t come into my mind yet. The first one, though, could have.)

It’s not really a problem, their late arrival, since they dovetail so nicely into what I’m trying to do, and I even have an ideal place to slip them in, that their inclusion will be seamless and painless. What really bothers me is the nagging sense that once I am finished and have surrendered the novel to an eager publisher, I will continue to have these revelations. Ideas will come to me that will have been perfect for the story that I’ll wish I had received earlier. I suppose this happens to everyone.

I’ve said more than once that I have felt like this story exists “out there” somewhere and that it is merely being “dictated” to me. I don’t really believe that, but it is a handy way to think about the creative process sometimes. At this point, though, I’m hoping the dictation is over.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, Sleep of Reason

2 Comments on “Last thoughts before starting again”

  1. Brian Keaney Says:

    I think that’s exactly what happens. There isn’t one of my books that I haven’t re-read after publication without thinking of details, or whole episodes that would have improved it. Finishing is such an approximate business. At some point you have to call time on a book. Otherwise you’d spend your life on it.

    I suppose it might be terrific at the end if you really did spend your life on it but actually I suspect it might just be a different version, as valid or as invalid as many of the previous versions.

  2. J.M. Reep Says:

    I don’t believe any piece of writing ever can be “finished.” It’s really kind of strange that we even use that word. Even after publication, if a scene or a character or dialogue can be added to (or cut from) a story, why not do it?

    Perhaps the notion of “finishing” a work comes from thinking of a book as an object — as a thing that has definite form and mass. A painting may be a “finished” object, a sculpture may be a “finished” object, a film might be a “finished” object, but a story is made of language, and language is never finished; it’s always in flux. It’s only when we try to imprison language within the confines of a physical object that we begin to think of it as finished. Ancient storytellers, I would guess, who told their stories orally, were never finished; their stories could always be altered.


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