When writing in-between classes to pass the time spiraled into writing a novel, I was excited about the process. The idea for THE TIME SLAVE came relatively easily. In one semester, I had completed 90% of my manuscript. No outline required! I thought to myself, "Wow, is it really this simple?!"
Insert inadvertently jinxing myself for the next 6 months. Working without an outline posed the biggest challenge of all--not knowing how the story ends.
I edited and revised and edited and revised (repeat about a thousand times).
Six months and chest-deep in edits, I still had no inkling on how to wrap it up. In fact, the longer I worked on it, the more the story went backwards. That's normal... right?
Not knowing what I was doing wrong, and feeling like an overly protective Mama Bear over my first manuscript, I decided to shelf it for another semester. Let me tell you, that was hard because it felt like I had abandoned my first and only manuscript. But like any struggling relationship, sometime's it's best to take a break from one another to gain a clear perspective. So I did.
A year strolled by and still no ending in sight. It wasn't until one random evening while watching HGTV with my roommate did inspiration hit. The ending was so crystal clear, I jumped off the couch like a cat being dunked in water. After scaring the bejesus out of my roommate, I frantically typed out the closing chapters and voila, I had my ending.
I was on cloud nine until I realized that having the ending opened up the door for a slew of revisions to come. Including but not limited to multiple title changes, concept changes, protagonist age changes, genre changes. If it could be changed, you betcha I changed it.
During my 4th major revision, I had this nagging thought in the back of my head.
When does change crossover from helpful to harmful territory?
I've come to realize, as a writer, the need to tinker never ends. There's always going to be a new idea, a new way to evolve the depth of your characters, expand scenes.
The real question I want to throw out into cyberspace is this: when is it okay to let go and stop?
Is there ever a time when you can sit back and think "Yes. It can't get any better than this."
Or does the cycle never end?