There is writing that is good and tickles the senses and soothes the heart and provokes the mind, and there is writing that is not so good. From my writing experience and from the books I’ve read and the interviews with authors I’ve listened to, first drafts tend to suffer from bad writing. Especially when the writer is inexperienced.
But with discipline, patience, and determination, you can go over your writing time and time again and improve it. That is what good writers do, frantic rewriting.
“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.” – Samuel Johnson
But you can’t go on rewriting forever. If you want to bring your story to life – to publish it – you need to stop at some point. Right now I feel that I could rewrite Oliver Colors’ biography endlessly and with each new draft improve it – rewording sentences, cutting adverbs, exchanging adjectives – but that is a selfish thing to do; it makes the writing better, but dooms Oliver to remain forever on the screen of my laptop, unknown to the world.
There is a point when the author must take a bow and retire from the stage and let the crowd applaud. Or hoot.
A novel is a condensed summary of a period in its author’s life. Unless autobiographical, it rarely records events exactly as they happened to its writer, but I believe it always captures the prevailing moods that he or she had at the time of writing, even if not overtly so. It’s a kaleidoscope of feelings.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin
You can never finish a novel, but you can abandon it. When you’ve said the most important things you wanted to say and did it clearly, when you’re beginning to be drawn to another story, when your interest in your current novel starts to wane, when you’re bored rigid of rewriting, when you know a period in your life has ended and a new one is about to begin, that’s the right time to let go.