How many drafts is really enough?

How long is a piece of string?

I look at my manuscript, The Mediterranean Source, with a bit of uncertainty at the moment. A book that has been years in the making, and just recently, has had some pretty serious rewriting done on it. Admittedly, the rewriting has made it a lot stronger… but it needs more.

I have had some really awesome and solid feedback from three trusted sources on this book after the last major revision… and now that I look at that feedback – I just have no idea where to start. In early January when it was relatively quiet in the office since only about ten staff had returned to work after the Christmas break – I managed to map out some crucial changes that needed to happen to this book. And where on earth I put those notes – I have absolutely NO idea.

For the life of me, I cannot remember what on earth I wrote in those notes either. (Thank you very much Babybrain!) However… What I had mapped out initially was a damn good start to the next lot of revisions that I wanted to get done on this novel.

How many drafts has TMS gone through? I have no idea. Seriously.I think that a part of me wants this book to be perfect in every possible way before I release it out to the masses for their opinions. But in saying that – I am afraid that if I don’t perfect the damn thing, then no one will want to read it – publishers included.

So why do I keep throwing it back into draft and not releasing it out to the world? Essentially, I think it’s because with each passing day, week, month, and year – I learn to see more and more fault with it. I seem to be stuck in this vicious little cycle. I want this book to be perfect, so I will just keep rewriting, revising, and editing it.

I don’t want this manuscript to be another big piece of work that I have done only to be thrown back in the musty old literary drawer. I think that it deserves more than that! So much time and research went into writing the damn thing, that I just don’t think I can file it away for the rest of my life. Action thrillers are what I want to be known for as a writer.

So far I have quite a few complete and incomplete manuscripts that are all sitting in that dark drawer… Many that I seriously need to finish up, and start the edits on them. They are good ideas. They have great plots and little thrills. But they aren’t ready – and for some unknown reason, I seem to be mentally unready to start tackling the pile. A while back I printed all of them out and bound them together to start making my way through. Perhaps this will be one of the onerous tasks that I try and complete while I’m on maternity leave. To read each one and allocate it to the priority list.

You never know what sort of gold I might stumble upon. Who knows – with some of it – it may be cast aside forever, but the ideas could be recycled into new work.

Those are options that are definitely worth considering. In the meantime – I’m going to go back to the drawing board of The Mediterranean Source, and see what I can do with it, and where I should marking my thick red pen all over it. After this round, I’m not sure I can do this process all over again with this book… So I had better make it worth my while.

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6 Comments

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  1. Loved this post! I suffer from the same sense of “perfectionism” and constantly wonder whether my edits are finally done! I don’t think this is a curse, as much as you can feel like wanting to pull your hair out with the frustration, because after all you are just pushing yourself to be the best and to put out the best manuscript you can. At the end of the day that is not a bad thing at all. It just means we are not content with mediocrity. Is any writer ever done editing? There is always a call to make a ms better even after you have published it. I know that when TMS is released into the world it will be Brilliant! I’ll be one of the first to buy a copy. 🙂

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  2. Great post. You can keep working on a manuscript until your brain is fried. There does come a point where you have to let go.

    Good luck. I know it’s a challenging stage in a manuscript. The draft I read was really good, so whatever you do to it, will make it brilliant 🙂

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  3. 3! No wait, 5!

    Seriously though, I do think there is a point where you have to stop fiddling, man up (figuratively) and either shelve the story or send it out into the world. 🙂

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  4. Part of the function of an editor or agent is to help you through the final little imperfections. Polish it as best you can and get it out there. It doesn’t have to be completely perfect for people to love you (or it). Some of the most interesting people I’ve met are ones who aren’t completely perfect. Same with books: Telll a good story and most people overlook the imperfections in writing. They shouldn’t be admiring the elegance of your writing, anyway, just being swept up in the tale. You can do this.

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  5. I really hope you release the book soon… I lived in Menorca for 7 years and love reading books based in places that I know and love… good luck with the rewrites, I’m sure that it will be amazing.

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