I was reminded the other day of a friend of mine. When asked why he was moving on from a great job that he loved, his answer was, ‘I want to quit while I’m still winning’.
So what brought this particular piece of wisdom to mind? I’d just finished my latest manuscript ( 🙂 ). I was happy with the plot ( 🙂 ). And I had a warm feeling in my heart for both the hero and the heroine ( 🙂 ). Oh… and the manuscript was 63,000 words long (Gulp!)
A few days later, after having some very stern words with myself and wielding a freshly sharpened red pencil like a sabre, I was back down to 50,000 words – give or take a few. And, although I’d just edited out quite a few of my darlings, I had to admit to myself that I was a lot happier with the finished product.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it. You can have not enough of a good thing, but you can also have too much. (Chocolate springs to mind.) We’ve all watched TV shows that we loved for the first two or three seasons, but by Season 5 the magic had vanished. I’ve never actually been on holiday for too long, but I’m told it’s possible 🙂 And I’ve come out of more than one film, wishing that it had been half an hour shorter.
[EDIT… and with my apologies for not making myself clear: Some things in life are just too precious to quit, though. For me, writing Medical Romance is one of them 🙂 ]
It’s a fine art. Knowing when there’s still more to do and you need to keep going, balanced with knowing when this is the best something’s going to get and it’s downhill all the way from here. And it takes nerve to quit while you’re still winning. Last week I was very grateful for that 50,000 word limit, because it dragged me back into line and made me submit a better manuscript than if I’d been given free rein to ramble on for another 13,000 words.
So I’m starting to come around to the idea of quitting while you’re winning. Not too soon – my optimism tells me that there’s always something good waiting around the next corner. But maybe there are a few things which are better done in smaller measures. What do you think?
I don’t have any new English language covers to show you this time around, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to show off a few recent covers from around the world, because it’s always such a thrill for me to see them. Right to left, the French translation of my duo ‘Rescued by Dr Rafe’ and ‘Saved by the Single Dad’, the Italian translation of ‘Discovering Dr Riley, and the Polish translation of ‘Discovering Dr Riley’.