Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Enough?

Saturday I spent a good part of the day organizing the basement. I found a lot of old writing. Some were from critique groups past that somehow never found their way back home. Some were submissions to Apollo's Lyre or the PPW NewsMag. Those hit the new, heavy-duty shredder. Many were short stories or early versions of MMG.

It was amazing how many different iterations it's been through. There's the yellow one, the blue one, the pink one, the gray one and now the green one. That's a lot of writing and rewriting. And a lot of trees sacrificed.

My protagonist is nineteen-year-old Kitty Stuart. She wants her mother to haunt her, but in Kitty's attempt to piss her mother off enough to do it, Kitty falls in love with a twice-divorced, alcoholic twelve years her senior. That's what will end up haunting her, or worse.

In the earliest version, I started the book when Kitty's mother was ten years old. Okay a bit of a running start. Second version was going to be alternating chapters of Kitty and her mother as a girl to compare/contrast their lives. Again, way too early. The third one starts with Kitty as a senior in high school to show her life before and then after her mother's death.

The fourth one starts at the mother's funeral, and while it can be argued that that is where the story starts, it was confusing to throw the reader into a huge extended family scene. They don't know this girl yet so there's no connection to what she's feeling. This one was read by a few people and I consistently got that comment.

So, now we're on number five. We start with Kitty "running away" with her beau. I'll find out in two weeks if it's the right place.

It was good to note that each version improved on the one before it. There are a lot of years of writing represented there. One would hope that reading and attending workshops and conferences and getting feedback would help. And I do believe it has.

Now I'm trying to not anticipate what the CWC+ will say about this latest incarnation. But of course I am. Throw it under the bed? Major changes or just minor ones? How many more times through? And the biggest one of all, which they can't answer: Do I have it in me to do another major rewrite of this one?

And the big existential writing question: When is it good enough?

I don't expect anyone to answer those here. That's what the group is for. Except maybe that very last one. When do you know it's good enough?

1 comment:

Fleur Bradley: said...

Here's when I know: I'm brainstorming edits, come up with a Brilliant Idea, go back all excited to edit it in there, and... It's already there :-) That's when I know it's time to wrap it up.

Honestly, you can edit and mold a piece forever, mostly because you change as a person and as a writer. I think when you reach the point where you're no longer improving but just changing a piece of writing, that's when you should consider it done.

Hard to know when that is though... That's why we have our writer peeps :-)