John McPhee has a piece called “Structure” in the Writing Life column of the January 14, 2013 issue of The New Yorker.

The last paragraph of the article keeps going round in my mind:

“People often ask how I know when I’m done—not just when I’ve come to the end, but in all the drafts and revisions and substitutions of one word for another how do I know there is no more to do?  When am I done? I just know. I’m lucky that way.  What I know is that I can’t do any better; someone else might do better, but that’s all I can do; so I call it done.” 

Reading that made me realize that I’m actually done with my novel, The Answer to Your Question.  I better be, because it’s published.  But I hadn’t really paused a moment to relish done.  Done!  No more drafts, no more feedback, no more revisions, no more wondering if I’m done.  Because, for better or worse, I’m done.  Like McPhee says, maybe someone else might do better, but that’s all I can do; so I call it done.

And boy, done is sweet. 

I think of all the manuscripts-in-progress I’ve read or critiqued over the years.  Occasionally I’ll get an email from someone telling me their book has been published or they’ve published it.  They’re done!  I’m always immensely pleased when someone crosses the finish line.    

I’m also aware of those who are still running.  You know who you are. The finish line seems far away, sometimes wavering in the distance like a mirage, or just when you think you’re about to cross it, it moves farther away. 

Keep going. Keep running.  Get to done.  It can be done.  In both senses of the word. 

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Tags: finishing

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Comment by Paulette Bates Alden on March 13, 2013 at 9:03am

Hi, Joanne.  I'm so glad you're "done" too! Congratulations!  You ask a burning question: is it possible to market AND write at the same time!  I'm struggling with that myself. Just this week I began to work on a novel I had put aside to publish ANSWER and then do a flurry of marketing on it this past month -- what, exactly, I did, I'm not sure -- gave a reading, did a KDP giveaway which I tried to announce on a million giveaway sites (very tedious), and wow, whatever else I can't even remember, except that I was obsessed with "marketing" for about a month.  Now I'm setting a timer and turning off the world to work on my new novel for an hour a day (or half hour if I can't manage the hour), and I can tell you it feels GREAT.  Just to be writing again, trying, discovering things as I go about the characters.  You may have to devote yourself to marketing for a bit, but once the initial push is over, you can get back to writing and just do the marketing in smaller pieces, not let it take over your life! At least that's the way it seems to me.  Good luck!  best, P 

Comment by Paulette Bates Alden on March 13, 2013 at 8:57am

Mardith, it is great to hear from you again, and yes, I remember you, though where the class was, I don't remember either.  So glad to hear you're writing and belong to shewrites.  Thanks for the nice words, and we're all still working--that never stops!  Keep me posted on your stuff -- best, P 

Comment by Joanne Barney on March 10, 2013 at 4:20pm

Done! And, like you,  I do feel good about Graffiti Grandma, the POD resting here on my desk. Now I have to market it, but it's taken years to get her there.  I need to take a long walk, appreciate the moment, and calm down the little girl wiggling in my consciousness, wanting to get out.  Paulette, is it possible to market and to write at the same time?  I hope so because an old lady and a very young one are depending on it. 

Comment by Mardith Louisell on February 15, 2013 at 3:21pm

Paulette, I worked with you years ago in Minneapolis, either at Loft of U of M.  I always liked your writing and was glad to see you appear on SheWrites with a new novel and descriptions about how it came to be and your process. Good luck with it all. From One of Those Still Working!

Comment by RYCJ on February 14, 2013 at 9:39pm

Thanks Paulette, and true Daphne. Much of what's on OEBooks Blog is mostly me, although having recently partnered up over at 'OE', in the past six, or so months, my 'control' has been confiscated at what I'm calling an alarming rate. But then that's a whole 'nother subject. 

Again, a great post. In addition to tweeting, I might write a post to highlight this one.

Comment by Daphne Q on February 14, 2013 at 9:04pm

I like this post a lot, Paulette. An important issue that isn't discussed much!

Comment by Ester Benjamin Shifren on February 14, 2013 at 7:48pm

Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I'm fortunate to be an international public speaker, so I already have several events lined up, including some in Buffalo NY and Toronto, Ontario. Over the years I collected a huge platform, and now I'm trying to keep up with all my connections. I wish I knew how to use social media more effectively, but I'm learning all the time, and I comment on lots of blogs, attend webinars and teleconferences, and live conferences etc. I also belong to three writing clubs, and was part of a terrific critique group for several years. It all helps. It's an awful lot of work, but so enriching to achieve so much on one's own. Kudos to all writers who just carry on carrying on, against all odds. We're in a good place now.

Comment by Paulette Bates Alden on February 14, 2013 at 7:13pm

Wow, RYCJ, thanks, and WOW again, you have a most interesting, impressive, original and articulate blogsite over at OEBOOKS!  Are you OEBOOKS?  You alone, I mean?  Whatever, you're doing some good stuff!  And you're obviously busy, publishing something like 19 books. Love the cover of "My Love."  It's inspiring to see someone (you) taking such control of your creative life/products.  Thanks for your note!  P 

Comment by Paulette Bates Alden on February 14, 2013 at 7:03pm

Ester, I just looked your book Hiding in a Cave of Trunks up on Amazon, and it sounds totally fascinating:  What an amazing family saga, so rich in history and multi-cultural interest.  I'm amazed at your life!  It's so great that you wrote this story and put it out into the world.  Only you could do it.  A story only you could tell, and tell well, apparently.  Congratulations, and thanks for your good wishes!  P 

Comment by Ester Benjamin Shifren on February 14, 2013 at 6:48pm

It's so true that one can stay forever on the runway, and no time in the air! I think some of it is fear that your work may elicit criticism and not be a success. Well—I finally finished my book and self published. What a fabulous win! It's just doing so well, and now I'm thinking of starting my second book right away. I wasted a lot of time, but I think the lesson has been learned, and I am encouraged by my success and the knowledge and friends I've gained along the rocky path to launching. thanks for this great post, and best wishes for your success.

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