First, I have a new manuscript I'm shopping around. Second, I'm beginning (very much BEGINNING) a new manuscript, a child's memoir of the 1960s. Third, I've been doing a number of readings around Chicago. There are a few more things, like touch-up painting at my house, moving furniture around, selling a few things on Craigslist, getting ready for some travel related to writing work - Vegas, Rockford, Illinois and Orlando (I'm pleased to have been named the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac Project) - and taking the car to the shop.
The first three, however, have fueled, in a way, yet another "something" I've been doing: editing.
Does it every stop? Every time I send out the manuscript for an agent or editor, I tweak it, compulsively. I change a sentence, rework a paragraph, substitute a word. It's never anything major, but there is ALWAYS...something. Then in the new manuscript, when I write one day and return to it the next for a redraft, I edit again. And with the readings, well, that's continual editing. As many of your know, reading your work, making it ready for the spoken word, sometimes means a bit of rewriting to allow it to be at its best when delivered live. So, yes, more editing.
The redrafting, the editing process, never goes away. You can edit forever. There is never a perfect manuscript, it seems. Even if it's technically right, the subjectivity of an editor or agent will request a shift, a change, an edit in content.
Writing is not a scientific endeavor; it's an art. Creative writing is a living, breathing entity. It has its own life, in many ways, and needs to be massaged. Sure, sooner or later in the real world, we have to say, "This is it. This is as good as it's getting" and stop the redrafting. Deadlines help, right? But sometimes our internal clock, and our internal self-confidence has to allow us to put the work "to bed."
It's not easy, I can attest to that. In fact, this blog entry is coming to an end right now because I have some editing to do.