Are we there yet?

How do you know when a piece of work is finished?

I guess the real answer is that it almost never is.

I’ve reread pieces that have actually been published and thought “Ah, I could have done that differently.”

But there comes a point where you just have to let it go and throw it over the fence.

For me I can usually tell after the very first draft if I like the story, the ideas, the feeling it conveys.

Then I pretty much put it away. Sometimes for a few days, sometimes even pieces I wrote years ago resurface and get the biro treatment.

I just ‘finished’ a piece I wrote in a writers group a couple of months ago. It’s about 2000 words. I knew it was finished when I put it down and thought, “that’s it it ‘feels’ right”. At one point, because of the way it is written I was in danger of overdoing it. I became aware (quite quickly) that I was trying to milk it for everything it was worth to prove some sort of technical merit. To show that, “hey look kids – I can do this, then that, and this” and …Well, it almost got away with me. “Look ma, no hands. Look ma, no feet.” Then you fall off. “Look ma, no teeth.”

So how do I know it’s finished?

I can read it out loud and it sounds right.

I print it and it looks right.

I put it down and it feels like the right time to put it down.

It just feels right.

As for the novel…

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