I was reading Writer Unboxed and I saw an article by Leanne Shirtliffe on oxymorons used by writers. One was finished draft. That caught my attention. I had just sent my finished draft of The Return to my publisher. Is it truly finished? Not really. After proofreading, there will be yet another round of revisions. This time the changes will be few and minor, but there will be changes nonetheless.
Books need to be polished. There is a big caveat, however. Don’t let fear of imperfection get in the way of sending your book out into the world.
Tempest at Dawn was my first novel. I spent over five years in research and writing it. I read dozens of books of the writing craft, employed a writing coach, attended writing workshops, and revised, revised, revised. Finally, an instructor at a writers' workshop sat me down and asked me what was I doing there. When I told her I was trying to figure out how to make my book better, she said it was fine. She pushed until I admitted I was afraid of rejection.
As long as I was working on revisions, nobody was telling me, “we like your book, but it’s not quite right for us, so I’m afraid we’ll have to pass.” She metaphorically, kicked me in the butt, and I sent out the queries. In short order, I had a New York agent with a prestigious firm.
The moral is to polish your work, seek out help, get it right, but eventually, you need to let it go. Rejections hurt in the moment, but regret lingers for a lifetime.