It’s not as nutty as it sounds. If you find yourself tinkering, obsessing, waking up at odd hours of the night, and overall re-editing to ad nauseum, you may need to check into the Betty Ford Finish the Damn Manuscript Clinic. Of course, conscientious writers go over their manuscripts a ton of times to make sure it reads exactly the way they want it to – but they also realize when it’s right and ready. This isn’t what I’m talking about. This is the author who messes about structure, organization, voice, and the story itself. Yikes.
Many years ago I had an author who simply couldn’t let her manuscript go. She refused to finalize it so we could go to print. She wanted to change this, rearrange that. The manuscript was perfect, and her changes were beginning to warp the original voice and pace. She wouldn’t listen, and I couldn’t go to print without her permission, so we reached a rectal/cranial inversion impasse. We were dangerously close to missing our deadline, but she kept her claw-like grip on her work.
Not having any choice, I canceled the project. Yes, it cost me dearly, and I was beyond pissed off, but I realized the author had no intention of ever finishing. I’m not sure if writing her story gave her a reason to get out of bed in the morning, or whether she’d invested so much of her soul writing this particular story that she didn’t know who she was once it was finished. But I suspect there were underlying issues that prevented her from psychologically letting go.