How do you know when you’re done?
by Patrick Hodges
I can’t put enough quotation marks around the word “done” in the title to emphasize my point, so I won’t even try. If you’re like me, you’re your own worst critic. And if you’re not, I’d suggest changing the dosage of happy pills you’re taking. Or maybe you are, indeed, just THAT good.
You’ve finished your book and you’re now in the process of revising. You read through your manuscript once, just to make sure all your words are in the right order like thousands of well-behaved ducks. And then you do it again. And again. (Now imagine a scene from an old TV show or movie where the camera is pointed at a clock on “speed up” mode, suggesting the rapid passage of time.) Several weeks – or decades – later, you continue to pore over your still-unpublished story, shunning the company of other human beings, and shouting “It’s almost done! I can FEEL it!”
Well, I can’t speak from experience, but I imagine that being an author is a lot like being a parent. You’ve done your best to prepare your offspring for the world that lies beyond your front door, and there must come a time when you have to push the little bird out of the nest and hope it will fly.
If you’ve finally reached this point, my best advice is to get the opinions of a small group of intelligent, unbiased people you’ve asked to read your work. There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes, because odds are good they will give you feedback you never considered. As good as your stuff is, it can always be better. No Olympic gold medalist in history ever achieved that top spot on the podium without help, and neither will you.
Ultimately, though, you have to make the final decision regarding when it’s time to unleash your creation on an unsuspecting world. Whether it’s the satisfying sound that your packaged-up manuscript makes when it hits the bottom of the mailbox or the barely audible click when you hit the “Send” button on your computer, you’ve taken the same step taken by every writer whose name you’ve seen as you thumb through your favorite shelf at your local bookstore. Congratulations on a job well done!
Patrick Hodges lives in Arizona with his wife of fourteen years, Vaneza. After doing weekly columns for entertainment-related websites, he has turned his attention to writing fiction. He is passionate about sending positive messages to young people. Joshua’s Island is his first novel. A sequel is in the works. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” him on Facebook.