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When to let a book go

I’ve been crazy proofreading the new manuscript, translations of surrealist poet Benjamin Péret. The translations themselves are very goo d, they’re poems, yes, if I do say so. My God, they should be. They’ve been reworked endlessly and they sing. But then there’s the intro, the opening of Americ an doors to this French squirrel of a poet. Trying to get it right. And keep it lively and engaging. And then there are footnotes, God help me. I have just emailed the “second pass” on proofs to my fabulous publisher, Black Widow Press. They are already advertising the book, The Big Game, on Amazon. So I damned well better decide where the commas go. One more pass. But I could work on this for another year! Each day I’d change a syllable. Or not. When do you let a book manuscript go out into the world ?

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  • Jeff McMahon February 13, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Some authors avoid this problem by only publishing posthumously.

    But I had a writing teacher at Arizona long ago who said you know something’s done when it makes you sick to look at it. (These are not very satisfying replies, I know).

  • David Alm February 14, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I think it’s when you realize that you’re changing things you’ve already changed, over and over again, until even you aren’t sure what works best.

    As Andy Warhol once supposedly said: “I can’t even tell what’s good anymore.”

    Or you could just adhere to the deadline, assuming there is one. If not, there should be, just to avoid such torture as this.

    • Marilyn Kallet February 14, 2011, 7:44 pm

      Deadlines are the only reason anything gets done. I could work on this manuscript every day for another year…
      But no! According to Amazon, it’s ready to roll! I’m so lucky to have a great book designer who has a good eye for inconsistencies–and I get three “passes” at revision and fixing typos. Three. Not 365!
      Thanks for the sage advice, everyone! You all rock–Marilyn