I've spent my writing time today working on a new beginning. All the elements are there. All the story is there. But narrowing the ideas and themes down to just the right words to convey the right tone, pacing, and meaning has proven an ornery task today. Finding my "Madison" voice again after being away from it for a while has been part of the difficulty--and having to untangle it from Robin McKinley's voice that is strong in my head from reading Sunshine. However, the good news is that I now have four new beginnings (five, if you count the original beginning) to work with tomorrow (or later today, if I'm ambitious). The even better news is that I have pinpointed my main theme. I thought I had it before, but in writing those 12 tag lines the other day, I realized I had two themes and two starting story arcs to one tale. Only the two themes were too intertwined to separate them without unraveling the whole story, which is when I realized that I really had one umbrella theme that I'd been completely overlooking. Now, to avoid the pitfall of too blatantly telling my theme to the reader, and I'll have a solid story.
I was reading a bit of Diana Gabaldon's blog yesterday and came across this quote: As my husband says, “to a writer, ‘finished’ is a relative concept.”
I understand the feeling. Gabaldon was referring to the much larger process of the production of a book after it is sold (and all the reiterations of edits it goes through), but I feel that way about the whole process of a book. I "finished" the book when I completed the first draft, and I celebrated as if I was done. Then I edited it and was "finished" again. Only to edit it again. Give it out to respected peers for their feedback. Edit again. Get more feedback. Edit again.
At each stage, a part of me has felt like I've finished--like now I have a sellable book. I admit, that part of me has grown smaller and smaller with each edit, but it's still there. Even this time, I'm hoping that once I rework the beginning (and a little of the ending, now that the theme is concrete), I'll be finished.