During the last couple of weeks I’ve been mostly working on editing Obsidian. This was only paused for a brief break to start this blog, and to kick start writing a short story for a contest I plan to enter soon.
I started writing Obsidian in 2009. Before that, I loved to read and passionately wished I could create stories for other people to enjoy, the way I love to read theirs. However, I firmly believed I did not have the patience to actually finish a novel. Ever since I had been old enough to hold a pen I had been trying to write stories longer then a couple of pages, and each of those attempts had failed miserably. At some point I’d decided I was better of sticking to my quite ferocious reading habits and my academic essays. Until, during my first year of teaching, in the middle of a fairly miserable, wet, cold December I needed something to dive into and reading wasn’t working. Suddenly, Word informed me that I had written 10.000 words. And the story wasn’t even halfway finished.
Believing I had nothing to lose, except maybe some time, I stuck by that story. And slowly, I added more and more to it, until it had grown into a 60.000+ word manuscript three years later. Having caught the writing bug really badly, and having the tendency to have too many ideas, I had also started a couple of other novels. These were also halfway finished by then, so I’d gotten a fair amount of practice. I’d even finished several short stories, entering them into contest to get feedback, so I could improve. And, being a touch of a scholar, I had also read a fair amount about writing. In general, I’d been working hard on becoming a better author.
The problem with learning and improving, though, is that when you read material you created before you got better, you see a lot of things you know you can improve. So I kept wanting to tweak things. And tweak more. Especially because becoming a better writer is a life long project. I’m always learning, and because of that, when I’m looking back on what I’ve created before, there is always something more to fix or improve.
But when are you done tweaking? If you keep on working on the story, it can’t get out there. And at some point tunnel-vision is inevitable. I actually have already let other people see the work, to get tips on what I missed, thinking of that problem. But to this day I still see parts that could improve…. And when do you give up on improving? When do you leave a manuscript behind, to focus on something new entirely?
Somewhere this year, I’m going to sent it out, though. As a new years resolution I promised myself I’d send the manuscript to a publisher before the year was done. After which, whatever the results may be, I will spend time focusing on new material. But for now, before I send it out, I need to edit some more, to make the manuscript as good as I can make it with my current skill set.