Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

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"The manuscript was delivered ahead of deadline and the editorial turnaround was quick."

Surely the most remarkable sentence in this highly interesting and informative essay for anyone interested in books/writing/the publishing industry.

“I read an essay on n+1 this morning, and it featured a writer who turned in their manuscript before deadline,” I told Mr Musings when I arrived home this evening. He was equally incredulous. “That can’t have been a real writer!” he declared, with more than a smidge of irony. “It must have been a book-shaped product.”

Not because “real writers” produce all their work in Hannah Horvath, last minute, “I’m going to write a book in a day” style (although yes, sometimes that too), but because we don’t like to let go. Even when the manuscript is essentially complete, we can still find improvements to make. And as long as there is time left on the clock to make them, we’re going to use that time to make them. Because as Megan McArdle put it in The Atlantic last week: “As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good.”

A few years ago, I bought a painting by an artist friend of mine, who now runs an incredible gallery in NYC. When I went to pick it up from her house a few days later, she asked if she could keep it a little longer. There was so much wrong with it, she said, so much that could still be improved. “No,” I told her defiantly. I had purchased the painting because I liked it, and I wanted to own it as is.

I let her go over a few of the lines with black paint before I took it, and the painting is still hanging on my lounge room wall; I am looking across from it as I write this post. I still love it, and I can’t imagine what my friend would have changed about it.But let’s just say I have a whole lot more empathy for her now in that moment, than I did four years ago.