Sunday, May 18, 2014

Completely Finished...?

As I write this post, I just received my final ARC for You, Jane, from my publisher. That's it - while the book is, technically, written in digital space, it might as well be written in stone. All editing and proofing are done, and what I see is what my readers will encounter.

In the final proofreading, I fight the urge to do more tinkering. Change a word or a phrase, a paragraph or a scene, you know, here and there. I read a sentence and think, "oh, if I flip those two clauses, it will be much tighter." I wonder if film editors go through this, too - the urge to move a frame, crop a shot, speed up or slow down a sequence.

Just one more tweak, one more spit and polish. Really. I promise. Just one more.

Letting a book be done isn't easy. For some reason, with short stories or poems I don't have this problem. And blog posts, easy-peasy. Done is done. But a novel-length work - well, it's tough to let it be completely finished.

Maybe it's perfectionism, although I think there's something more. I think there is also a reluctance to let go of these characters, in this world. Oh, sure - about two-thirds of the way through major editing round whatever, I'm sick of them all and need a break. But at this moment, preparing to launch them into the world, I'm not quite ready to let go.

One of my dear friends is launching her oldest son, as he graduates from high school and prepares to head for college. Not a parent myself, I wonder if there is some parallel. Don't go yet, I think, I'm not done with you. I still need to nurture you a bit, keep you protected, under my wing. Just a little longer.

It's time, though, so You, Jane will escape my wing and find its way to the big scary wonderful world the first week in June. With all its mistakes and flaws. I guess none of us are ever completely finished.

Do you launch your work with ease? I'd love to hear from you.

Elizabeth Fountain is the author of An Alien's Guide to World Domination and the upcoming You, Jane. You can find her work and read more of her thoughts about life, friendship, music, and baseball at her author blog, Point No Point.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I'm right there with you, Liz. Your parallel is correct, too. But it's also another kind of life-giving.

The characters are real; their lives go on in our heads. They mature just as do our friends. We not only send them out into the world, but we want the best for them for years to come. This is why series are popular and why books are updated and reissued.

Big Mike said...

Once I finish final edits I sigh, then I get the Errata copy and I start all over again (g).

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Liz Fountain said...

I never thought of it just that way, Julie, but I think you're right about series, and re-reading books.

And after the errata copy goes back, Big Mike, do you sigh again? Or just wipe the sweat from your brow and plunge into the next MS?


Audra Middleton said...

SO tough to let it go! Sometimes I think I could keep tinkering forever...