letting go…

Last Thursday I attended my second meeting with my new critique group. Ahhh, critique groups. We leave with some much information swirling around, from our own work and those of others.

I let it all sink in. Character motivation. Scene sequence. Validity. Too much info. Not enough info. The list goes on. Yet, there is always something, a recurring theme, or a point that really catches my attention. There were two this last week, but today’s post is about one: letting go.

Coming back after the summer holiday, I have a list of shorts I aim to submit. Fall deadlines are looming, and I am re-reading over my shorts wondering, are any of these ready? A few months ago I thought they were. Some shorts have been critiqued and re-worked countless times. I know, I just know, that there really is not much more to be done. So, what’s the problem?

Lack of self-confidence is part of it I think, but other times I feel so certain about my writing this is not a factor.

How about the need to forever improve? Perfectionism, something I think most if not all, writers suffer from. As a writer I am constantly evolving. How does my work keep pace with this evolution? In my eyes, nothing I write is at its highest potential, yet to attain this, I would eternally be re-writing. Somehow I have to make peace, and let go, because I think this perfectionism can serve as its own block. Imagine working the same piece over and over for years? Oh, yes, I have already done that!

How do you decide to let go, and release a piece into the world for possible publication? How do you decide your piece is done?

33 thoughts on “letting go…

  1. The question of the ages! It’s occurred to me that one could write the same piece of a lifetime.

    One (of several) ways I decide something is done is when I’m changing back and forth, this word, no that word, no the first word. Deadlines help, too! As you said, some are looming. πŸ˜‰

  2. LOL this was the topic of the blog post I had written for my blog yesterday before I changed my mind. So, obviously I don’t have an answer for you.

    That’s a good clue, Cathryn.

    And wow, Joseph, if only I had “an endless fund of brilliant ideas”!

    1. Same, Tricia! Same.

      I started writing my second novel because I was bored with the first. I was brave, and decided to query the first anyway, got rejections (as you know from my comments on your site) and am now thinking I will do another round of edits. I am not ready to shelve it. Besides, if it came that close, then I can keep at it, right? ahhhhhhh!!!!

      It’s so hard to think of something as done. I think I need to find another way of looking at it, yet it still eludes me.

  3. I think it’s a bit like walking into a cold lake. You just.. eventually.. do it. πŸ™‚

    Yes, that may have been the least helpful comment ever. I apologize, but I have nothing better.

    1. Actually, Jen, it is helpful! Like ripping off a bandage. I don’t think I have a problem with submitting, although I have not submitted much more beyond three shorts, my problem is more deciding to stop working on a piece and move on. Actually, publication does put a stop to my editing, yet there is one published short of mine that I have had to refrain from editing! Aggh, I am crazy!

  4. I have a bad habit of letting go too soon. Still, I struggle with knowing when a piece is ready. Since I’ve never reached the magical realm of publication, I can’t claim any authority on the subject.

    Instead, I take my cues for those who have. It seems like a constant challenge. Every time I look over one of my stories I discover a new correction or revision.

  5. Whenever I feel I’ve done what I can to a story I begin sending it out. If it’s rejected several times and I’m lucky enough to get feedback with the rejection I take a good look at what that particular editor had to say. Sometimes I agree, other times I don’t. I’ve also come to know that just because one editor doesn’t choose a piece doesn’t mean the next one won’t without you having to change a thing..Often times it comes down to person taste. I’d say just do it!!! Rejection isn’t the end of the world but acceptance feels mighty sweet and you just never know.

    1. “If it’s rejected several times ” – that sounds dead on, Laura.

      I think I leave things to stew too long on my computer without ever sending them out, so when I think it’s time to submit, so much has changed in my writing that I edit. I think perhaps I need to put more priority in submitting.

  6. Laura Best stole what I was going to say, ;-)–though I usually have a few first readers’ opinions (and edit accordingly) before I start sending stories out.

    When I’m feeling particularly sluggish/insecure, I remind myself of how long I’ve been writing, how old I am, and where I want to be as a writer . . . When I’m fifty I still want to be writing (of course!), but I’d like to have a body of fiction published . . . and if I don’t, I want it to because I’m still waiting for my break, not because I haven’t been brave enough to put stuff out there.

    It is _really_ hard though, isn’t it? I guess it’s because we (hopefully) become better writers as each month/year passes, so if we let too much time go by, it’s always easy to see where a piece fails. I know I look back on past published writing and think, “Yikes, I’m so much better now.” I try to let that be exciting, rather than embarrassing . . . πŸ™‚

      1. Hi Jenniferneri, I got an email the other day. The editor is currently reading it. Apparently, she is enjoying reading the story, her only criticism being that it’s “a little overwraught” in places. I think I can see where.

        As for the third novel, I have a feedback slot scheduled for next Wednesday at the local novelist group.

        My second novel (completed) is currently sitting on a chair at home, gathering dust.

        Hope you have a good weekend. I’m fighting a bad cold.

      2. Oh, I am excited for you, Lawrence. You will do a post about it once you receive your feedback I hope!

        Wonderful that you have so much material! I also have a novel gathering dust, yet I am not willing to shelve it just quite yet. Yours are sequences I believe?

  7. Have you found an answer yet? I have to agree with what you and others have said in the comments … there may not be an answer. Maybe there is no good time. There may be a better time (after you’ve edited, gotten critiques, and edited again), but no good time! Good luck with this. A somewhat unrelated question: how did you find your critique group? I always wonder how critique/writing groups work for others…

    1. Hi Christina! An answer? I think it comes with believing in oneself and our work. I think it also comes down to not letting things rot on our computer and sending them out. Lastly, I think realizing that our change and growth as a writer is a natural positive occurrence. thanks to all of you for this!!

      As for you second question, it took some time to find this group. I put my feelers out and actually the connection was finally made through my local library. One of the librarian’s is a writer who is a part-time member and he put me in touch with the group. I am grateful! Being in touch with other writers is always great for me.

  8. I feel as if I’ve been gone for ages. Glad to be back home and read this post.

    It is hard to know. I’ve sent so much out before it was ready–years and years of stuff. I think a piece is ready when I can read it over and not change anything, that is of course after many revisions and critiques by others.

    Then I just send it. I consider it really done when a reader likes it enough to publish it. Only then do I let go.

    1. Hi, Cynthia – welcome back!

      “I think a piece is ready when I can read it over and not change anything”. That has happened to me, but not after a significant amount of time has gone by. That must mean I am not getting things out of my computer fast enough…

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