Reading back yesterday’s thoughts on Hal’s marvellous muse post, there’s the possibility that readers might see an implied criticism along the lines of being too precious about one’s “art” when a professional writer should be more concerned with seeing to the requirements of one’s “business”**. Obviously, that’s not what I meant. Not at all. Every writer has to balance these aspects as suits their abilities, personality and circumstances, and if you don’t have such pressing constraints as, say, a deadline, then you can always afford to step away from the canvas one more time for a ponder.
Hal’s work tends towards the artistic side, his personality towards perfectionism. He likes to challenge himself (and his readers). If Testament simply HAS to have seven chapters, each with six sections comprising four passage each of which is EXACTLY 500 words long, then that’s the way it has to be. There is no room for mediocrity – or compromise – in such a scenario. It’s either right or it’s not.
I suspect that most writers, myself very much included, are much more organic in their approach. Our ambitions (comparatively) straightforward, and our decisions to call something ‘finished’ commensurate with our appreciation of our own talents and how close that deadline actually is. Personally, I’m always aware that there is something more that I could have done to a piece of writing, some improvement I could still have made. In my mind though, nothing is ever perfect. But I do know when it’s good; and when it’s good enough.
And that’s the issue with the long-gestating current novel. A lot of it is good, but as a whole it’s not good enough. Not yet. Obviously, I do have artistic standards after all.
**This is, by the way, is a good example of calling something ‘good enough’ and hitting the post button, of not waiting til it was perfect…