I finished the rewrite of my novel in time for WisCon 35. Go me! Except, there’s a scene missing, I need a stronger opening, and the novel is at least 25,000 words too long. Two members of my writing group still haven’t given me comments for the first 80 pages and I just handed it to one other person to read the entire novel and offer suggestions. But I’m done. Finished. On to the agent search!
Except that I’m not. Not finished. Not done. Not ready to hand out the first fifty pages to anyone. I’m not ready to send anything out until I finish going through the latest comments from my writing group on those first fifty and making the changes that I feel need to be made.
My novel is also too long. Pretty much every thing I’ve read and everyone who I’ve talked to tells me that it’s too long. The most generous estimate is that I have to cut 25,000 words to be ready to seek an agent. Others tell me 50,000. Still others tell me that it takes as long to tell a story as it takes, and if an agent sees promise in the first fifty, then she’ll help with identifying where the chaff is that needs cutting. I want to believe that last one, so it’s probably not true.
So I’m done, except that I’m not, and won’t be for a couple of months yet. I’ll work on the opening scenes this weekend. I’ll go over the latest suggestions from the writing group next week and tackle those edits next weekend. After that I’ll hit that one scene (I’ve been putting it off this long, what’s another couple weeks?).
Writing continues on the project that’s done and I’m no longer sure I’ll recognize actually being done when it gets here. I know this isn’t it, but what about after I revamp the opening and complete that one scene? If it’s still clocking in at around 150,000 words, will I consider it done and send it out? Will I struggle for those last 25,000 and then call it done (I cut the original project in half and the rewrite still got me to this length. Will I ever be able to cut that much?)? Even if it finds an agent at 150,000, there will be more changes then and more again should I be lucky enough to get the book sold.
Maybe “done” isn’t the right word. Maybe “ready” is the word I’m looking for. Not completed, because it seems to me that novel writing is a process, with lots of options and opportunities and choices to make along the way. But maybe I need to shoot for “ready” and see where that takes me.
It’s not ready yet. I’ve completed a rewrite and now I’m working on some additional changes. Then I think it’ll be ready for the next step in the process. I’ll have to be happy with “ready” because no story of mine is ever done.