Fortitude & Courage

How do I know when my creative project is finished? Sometimes writers will revise their work till it feels sterile--no longer their own. On the other hand, sometimes impatience is mistaken for courage. So how to balance fortitude and courage? When is pushing to share our work courageous, and when it is too early? This is the riddle of art, and there's no right answer. Each work is different. I have had fictions, such as this one, come out polished and ready for the world with a single revision. Meanwhile, I have had other pieces escape into the world on a wave of adrenaline and eagerness, only for me to wish I could take them back. We, the creators, are often so eager to share our words that we don't slow down enough to consider if we are doing it in the most efficient and effective way. I'm going to be a little controversial and say that the pay-to-play model in the literary world feeds this all the more. Vanity presses that charge authors to publish (largely before the work is ready) are highly successful because of the adrenaline high writers get when they take the next step. I have no problem with this model in general. In fact, I've reflected quite philosophically and reverently about it at JMWW, but I do worry that writers will sometimes rush forward before they are ready and feel regret. So how to know that you're ready to publish, in whatever way is calling you? My advice for exploring the answer to the impossible question: Reflection #1: Take a moment to imagine it already published. Get really gritty with the details. Who will read it? Why will they read it? How will you talk about this work? Imagine. Write what you see.

Reflection #2: Imagine yourself presenting your work on the largest stage to all those you look up to and admire. How do you feel? What do you say? Imagine. Write what you see. These questions may help you to see the reality, that elusive beautiful thing. And it will help you to understand if you need to buckle down and keep working or release your magic into the world.