I was thinking this weekend about that perennial question authors ask themselves, and each other:
How do you know when the book is done? When is it ready to send off into the world?
My answer, for myself, has always been when it's as good as I can make it. The funny thing is, I didn't realize that was a moving target.
I wrote a book. I thought it was as good as I could possibly make it. My agent loved it and agreed to represent it. Wahoo! Done, right?
It didn't quite sell, but we had consistent feedback. On reading the feedback, I realized the book COULD be better. I could go farther, deeper, if I let myself. I didn't know what I was thinking before, that it was as good as I could do. It wasn't. I just *thought* it was. So I revised it.
I thought I was done. NOW it's perfect, right?
Then a brilliant person suggested a completely different bent to the book. ("What would it be like if THIS happened instead?")
I now am just starting to realize that when I have that "oh" moment, there's yet another level to go. The book was good, maybe. It could still be better. And every time, I realize that where I thought I let go before, that I really gave it all I had, there's MORE.
Some people don't understand how I can keep making revisions when I was happy with the book to begin with. "If it was right before," they ask, "why do you keep messing with it?"
Because maybe it was right before for me a year ago, or 6 months ago. I keep growing and changing as a person, keep inhaling other books and thoughts and (hopefully) wisdom. So when someone I trust says "not quite right" I damn well WILL go at it again. And again. And again.
Is it perfect this time? No. I'm sure with the right eye I could make it EVEN better. But this time, really and truly, it's the best I can do.