The Art of Letting Go

Have you ever wondered if Picasso saw one of his paintings hanging at an opening and thought, “Just another stroke of blue and it would be perfect.” Or, if Stephen King thumbed through Carrie and wanted to change a word here or there?

If that’s the case, how does anything ever hang on the walls or ends up in print? How do you finally push it away and say it’s done?

Almost every time I’d look at Phoenix during the querying process I’d make a tweak here or there. My wonderful critique group (Greater Fort Worth Writers) read it last summer and gave me feedback. Numerous writing buddies have given me their edits. I’ve made their changes and then some, and thought I was ready to go.

So why in the world did my Muse whisper a chapter to me one Sunday morning last month while I hiked the Texas Hill Country? Was it because I was mulling over a proposal by a friend to publish it? Did the acknowledgement of me being ready to hit the BIG print button cause her to go, “Wait, wait, wait, I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”? Or, is it my own fear of letting my baby loose in the wind like a bundle of balloons?

I wrote that new chapter and it does feel like that missing pinch of salt (of course, the wonderful critique group members who have it in their inbox may tell me it’s too much). And after one more re-read, I think I might be ready to let go.

How do you let go of your work?

About Kimberly Packard

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years. When she isn’t writing, she can be found rollerblading, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in North Texas with her husband Colby, Oliver the cat and a 75-pound lap dog named Charlie. Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors.
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14 Responses to The Art of Letting Go

  1. I haven’t figured that one out yet either. I know that at some point you have to say, “It’s done” and walk away from it. However, if you are still writing whole chapters that work instead of just tweaking it, maybe your not done with it. Listen to what your critique group says. If you have a good group, they can help you figure it out.

  2. The best of stories must always come to an end. Counter example is season 7 of The X-Files. Each time you go back to add more, you run the risk of sullying the great story you already have. Let go of the story and use further ideas to stimulate conversation amongst your readership on your blog.

  3. kristinapui says:

    Hey there! I have nominated you for the Liebster Award over on my blog here: http://bittersweetnovel.wordpress.com/?p=59 Thanks so much for your great blog posts!

  4. They say no art is ever finished, only abandoned. I guess I usually try to stop when I start doing more harm than good; it could always be better, but at a certain point, it is past my abilities to improve and trying can only make a mess.
    How do I tell when I’m at that point? I have no idea, but I usually seem to figure it out a few months too late, after lots of wasted time.
    Thanks for the interesting post–I’m looking at the piece I’m working on, wondering when I’ll know.

  5. Eng.Hasan Al-Bahkali says:

    Good blog

  6. Know the feeling. I guess the truth is that it’s never finished, you just have to move on to something else. And sometimes when you do (I find this anyway), you realise the earlier thing wasn’t as good as you thought, and you end up recycling the good bits. That way madness and perpetual obscurity lie…. Hope the book does well for you.

    • Thank you, Chris! Yeah, I think that as we grow as writers, we could always go back and re-write something better. I need to just tell my publisher to take it away from me and don’t let me keep tinkering with it.

      Appreciate the comment!

  7. I love the way you write about writing. I currently only write my blog, but I always know it’s time to push “post” when I feel like I’ve eliminated all the cul-de-sacs between the first sentence and the last. Killing off the parts that are meaningful or hilarious is hard, but if they don’t enhance the whole piece, they probably belong to my next work, not the one in front of me.

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