Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good, Better, Best, And Yet...

Much to my chagrin, I am not a top-geek. I'd guess I'm about a 6 or 7 out of 10 on the Geek Scale.
I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of Star-Trek, Star Wars, or Rocky Horror Picture Show. I haven't read Tolstoy, and my knowledge of Asimov is strictly a persistent (and correct) belief that people shouldn't design robots that can violate the three laws. I also haven't played chess in months. So, yeah, geek fail. But, if there's one thing I can geek out about is languages. Well, ones that I know, at any rate. (Sorry, my klingon and Elvish are both abysmal.)

I'm currently studying Chinese, and Chinese has these funky things call RVC verbs. Now, I've completely forgotten what RVC stands for, but it's basically an attachment to the verb to explain the state of the verb.

Now, I get it, this probably does not sound like something fun, interesting, or worth geeking out over. But, a while ago, I learn this RVC ending ' wan,' which means 'to finish' and another ' hao,' which is 'to finish properly and to satisfaction.' And these endings can be attached to the verb 'xie' which means 'to write.' When I learned that, I stopped and geeked out in my mind for about five minutes. I got pretty happy, because I'd learned a verb construction, a word, that we don't have in English to describe a common concept in my life.

Whenever I write anything, a report, a poem, a novel, there's going to be more than one draft. I never get it just right the first time. Tragically, I am a mere mortal. But, usually, if someone asks how it's going, I'll say, "Well, I've got something I can hand in." You know, failing all else and all efforts for improvement are barred, I've still got a complete. 完. There's something done.

But, let's admit it, first drafts are never perfect. There's probably weak character motivations, plot holes, and scenes that don't make sense because of changes you made later in the process. And once those things are done, there's probably writing that needs to tighten, factual consistencies to check, and other minor edits. It takes many drafts before a project can be close to 'finished.'

They say DaVinci carried the Mona Lisa with him all his life, because he never considered it truly finished. He was still working on it always. That was a man who understand the difference between a potential stopping point and being properly finished.

The Thief Book is currently in draft 2.5. It's still got quite a ways to go before it'll be 'finished.' I don't know if I'll ever consider it properly finished. But, that's always something to look forward to.

Okay, geeking out over.

How do you feel about your drafts? Do you think it's ever possible for a project to be 'finished'? When do you let a project go if it isn't 'finished'?

What do you like to geek out about?


  1. Amen! I don't think a project is ever perfect. But we do have to let it go at some point. I'm on draft three, and I'm sure I'll be working on draft four soon.

  2. I am now convinced that a project is never finished until it is in print, and then there are new editions to fix stuff you missed! I am on draft 9. NINE. Draft 1 was for me to read. Drafts 2 & 3 were for feedback from betas, 4 for me, 5 for beta, 6 went out on query, 7 & 8 & 9 are all a result of feedback from agents. So if I actually GET an agent, we're looking at draft 10. And if I actually GET a book deal, there will most certainly be a draft 11 and maybe 12. I think I need to go lie down.

  3. I let my book Monarch go to draft 11 before I finally got it printed on Lulu and sent it to myself so I could say, DONE!

    For now...

    I marked it up when I got it, and now I have one more round of edits. Still, I feel like I'm finally getting to a stopping point.

  4. I wish I had that word in english because I'd use it all the time. ;) I feel just like that. Finished vs. Finished to Satisfaction. I don't know that I've ever really felt that last one.

  5. fairyhedgehog -- Why thank you. :)

    Susan -- Good luck with draft four. I have faith it will be ever closer to perfection than the previous three.

    Jenna -- That's a lot of drafts. I'm hecka impressed. That's some serious dedication. I hope draft nine takes.

    Glamis -- Draft 11. Wow. That's intense. Quite dedicated. You should be proud.

    L.T. -- I'm sure you'll feel it one day. You'll get there eventually.

  6. I share your geeky love of languages!

    When is a draft finished? I wouldn't know. I have this idea in my head that my current WIP will be ready to submit at draft 3, but I have a sneaking suspicion that that idea is insanely wrong.

    HOWEVER! You have just given me a burning desire to go play with the German CD ROM I found in a used bookstore and then watch Amelie with the French subtitles on four times in a row.