Sex Writing: When Does The Rewriting Stop?

Although Hemingway is quoted as having said: “The only kind of writing is rewriting,” there does come a time when you need to say enough, push yourself away from the Smith-Corona and declare the thing done. Surely, very few of us (even Papa H. it seems) can write straight on through from our heads to the page and not make nips and tucks (it was said old Isaac Asimov had this ability) but there comes a time when doing more gets in the way of doing any more… good.

How do you know when you reach this point? Hell, if I know. Ok, thanks for reading me this time. See you in a few weeks…

Ok, I’m joking. I’m not shuffling off that easy. It’s just that what you do or don’t do to your work, is not anybody else’s call but your own. All I can do is maybe point you at some sure signs that what you have been toiling over might be baked to well-done.

1.) You are growing bored with it. For the sake of what I am on about here, let’s assume you have already done some deep-dive rewriting on your piece. You have put it aside, come back to it a few days later, gave it repeated floggings (and really, what one of us doesn’t like a repeated flogging?). But on the fourth, fifth or seventy-eighth time back if you find you are more than bored with the thing, it might be time to say it’s finished and send it out or at least let somebody else read it. (And let me tell you if you don’t grow aroused any longer over a piece of erotica that came sluicing out your head, but you once did, you are as much done reading it as you are done writing it!)

2.) Whoever you let read it, reacts favorably. This is a sticky wicket to be sure (“Eww, your wicket is all sticky!”). In the end, what we most (not always) but mostly are hoping for is for someone to, at the very least, read our scribbles. Take your reader’s opinions with a grain of salt, though (and this is what I meant by the ‘sticky wicket’ remark). Akin to movie studios passing out comment cards at test screenings, each person’s opinion is simply…each person’s opinion. But if you trust somebody you happen to give your piece to, agree with their sensibilities, if they happen to react positively and indeed think the writing is ‘done,’ then maybe you can consider it done as well. (And again, if it’s a piece of erotica and your reader has to beg off for a quick one-handed tickle, this should be all the proof you need that you’ve done your job).

3.) Go on to something else. Nothing clears out the old writing cobwebs better than seeking a new love interest; in this case, creating or working on another piece of writing. Even if you do end up going back to revise the first piece, at least you’ll get away from it for a while, and you might just find that something new brings you to a point where you forget, or at least, let go the old.

Image by free stock photos from from Pixabay

4.) Meet That Deadline. This one lets you off the hook…or adds pressure; take your pick. But for those of us writing for a deadline, especially one we have to meet to get paid, means we are only going to get a finite amount of rewriting.

5.) It begins to morph into something else. Again, this a hard one to navigate as sometimes we are as much unaware this might be happening, as unconsciously resistant to it happening. But it’s not so bad actually if your short story starts to unfurl itself into a novelette or that poem prompts you to pluck its wry rhyming meat and start a one-act play from its lines. The very fine point here is that: A.) if something wants to become something else, let it. B.) if in becoming something else, it might stop you rewriting it in the form it was, that’s ok and C.) you might end up with two (or more things) if the first thing (ok, follow me here, it gets a little bumpy) feels like it might want to be something else and you can stay patient enough not to completely trash that first thing for the new thing it seems to have become. In fact, I’d advise you to keep as much of your ‘things,’ as you can (hoarding anyone?)… Just open a file titled ‘Things-I-was-revising-that-became-something-new-but-because-of-Ralph’s-sage-advice-I-have-not-wholly-jettisoned-even-though-in-this-form-I-have-stopped-revising-it-for-the-present.’

I could bore you with writing about the many many many items of writing, short stories, articles, novels, and songs I have that are incomplete. I am still on the fence over whether this is a good thing—I am always flittering about, never bored and never suffer from writer’s block (as I mentioned in another article here) because I always have so much that needs finishing—or it’s a bad thing because it’s difficult for me to stay the course with one thing at a time (nowhere else but in my work though do I suffer this ADD. Or is it BLT? It might just be ELP or BTO, I’m not sure.) So, I am a rewriting addict, and I really do enjoy it more than I do writing (and I love writing). I guess the idea of never finishing a thing could give rise to the question if you indeed want the thing ‘out there’ even. But in lots of cases of lots of writers I know, we just want to get the thing as perfect as we can.

But alas, we ain’t perfect kids, and nothing we ever create will be. I’m not sure if that’s a comforting thought, but I do believe there comes a time when things are done. Just try and lookout for it.

Featured Image by free stock photos from from Pixabay




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