Saturday, December 20, 2008

Are we done yet?

Writing a book is somewhat like baking a cake. The experienced cook knows when the cake is done, but it's difficult to explain how he or she knows to another person. So it is with a book or story. Each author has an inherent sense of when the story is finished, but no way to explain that sense to another person.

One of the most frequent questions I get from the house hunk is "Are you almost done?" Well... not yet. My current work in progress is close to completion, but not quite yet. Yesterday I wrote more than 3500 words, fully expecting it to be finished. But...not quite yet. So today I will write some more until that internal sense tells me that the story is complete.

I once sent a book to my editor, uneasy and irritable because I sensed it wasn't quite finished. Eventually, I retrieved it and added some more to the story, smoothing out rough spots, explaining things that were inexplicable. In edits, there were more additions. That book ended up nearly 10000 words longer than when I first submitted it. I will never again yield to the pressure to finish, finish, finish until my inner sense is at peace.

So the answer is: Not quite yet. But soon. Very soon.



  1. Sometimes I don't know I'm done until I'm at the last sentence and I think, "Yeah, that's it." I'll kinda squint at it just to make sure then hit save and begin editing. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

  2. There's an element of peace and accomplishment when it's finished. That sense that there's no more to be said.

  3. An Anny Cook book is worth waiting for. Don't rush it!

  4. Stories have their own sense of pacing and completion. If we, as writers, try to fight it no one will be happy. Least of all us.