Years ago I took an oil painting class. Oil paints dry very, very slowly. This allows the artist to fiddle and fidget with her work over a period of time, making changes here and there until the painting is just right. Or until she drop-kicks it in the dumpster and finds another canvas – whichever comes first.
Now I’m writing. I’ve found that, like oil painting, authors can fiddle and fidget with their work endlessly. Computers make this both easier and more difficult. Easier because cut and paste are wonderful inventions, wasting neither paper nor ink. More difficult because it’s hard to set the brake and say, “It is finished.”
How many ways can you say the same thing? More than I’d dreamed possible. Take something as easy as a character entering a room:
Donna eased the knob to the right and nudged the door open enough to peer inside. The room empty, she walked in.
With a sharp kick of her high heeled pump, Donna burst into the room. Empty chairs ringed the long wooden table.
Donna knocked twice with her heel. She juggled both grocery bags to one arm and fished her house key out of her coat pocket. She pushed open the door and yelled for help. Silence greeted her.
Is it any wonder writing a novel takes so long? So many choices, so much to fiddle and fidget with until it’s just right. Or until it meets the delete key – whichever comes first.