Revision is Like Washing the Dishes (except I ENJOY revision)
Dirty dishes. They happen. I mean, we have to eat, right? But I have such a hard time getting them all finished in one sitting (standing?). A friend and I were talking about how proud we feel if we do all the dishes, because usually there are a few things left over--maybe a frying pan, a couple of containers from the five-year-old's lunch box, a cutting board. We called those things the Last Ten Percent because they can be left on the counter through many cycles of dishes. Lingering.
I was thinking how the Last Ten Percent relates to revision. After I'm done with the first draft, it's such a rush to dive in and get the new order of events down, or tweak an element of the character arc, do the things necessary to get the manuscript to a point where the flaws aren't quite as embarrassing. But then, draft after draft, some of the same little things crowd the end of my revision to-do list, things I'm maybe not as excited about fixing. Either they're too big (like the deep fryer my mother-in-law used to make an Italian dish I can't pronounce, much less spell), or they're lots of little bracketed things (like the disposable toddler spoons I insist on washing to use again).
As I embark on a new set of dishes--or revisions--that Last Ten Percent is always there, taunting me, or haunting me, until I finally force myself to sit there and just get it done.
If I'm not careful, the Last Ten Percent can prevent me from submitting a manuscript that's ready to go--whether it's going to critique partners, or agents, or editors. I guess another question is whether that Last Ten Percent is real or imagined--because I've held on too long before.
What's your Last Ten Percent, and how do you find the energy & motivation to follow through?