“What I have written, I have written,” (John 19:22) Pilate says when asked to change what he had posted on the cross above Jesus. I’ve been reflecting on this for the past few weeks as I work on polishing manuscripts for publication. Not that I want to align myself with Pilate in any way. He is not someone I want to emulate. He caves into the demands of the people and ignores the wisdom of his wife, allowing an innocent man to be killed. Perhaps that is why when asked to make this change, he refused to budge to make up for his earlier wishy-washiness. Whatever the reason, in doing so he proclaimed the truth.
What I have written, I have written! At what point do you finally say this, put down your editing pen and publish! At what point do you say, I have done enough, I’m finished, no more i’s to dot or t’s to cross? Gustav Flaubert is credited with saying, “I spent the morning putting in a comma and the afternoon removing it.” It seems to me that when you start doing that, it’s time to quit. Enough already! It will never be perfect. When I find myself making changes, only to change them back, I figure I’m done. I’m no longer productive.
Rob Eager, from Wildfire Marketing, quoted Allen Weiss, another marketing and management consultant, saying that if a product is 80% ready to go, send it out there. Usually in the last 20% you get so caught up in details that you are counterproductive, hence, working all morning to add a comma and all afternoon to remove it. Get it out there; let the market determine whether you’ve got a winning product. Let your customers tell you what more needs to be done.
I certainly wouldn’t want to put out a manuscript that is only 80% complete, however if I keep editing for that elusive 100%, I may never publish. Also, in this day and age of on-demand printing, errors found can be easily changed with a click of a mouse.
And so, maybe it’s time to say, “What I have written, I have written.” Did Pilate really know the truth of what he had written? Do we always know what we have written? How it will be interpreted by later generations?
So, do your best, edit and edit and edit again, and then put it out there and let God do the rest.
How do you know when you are done editing? Are we ever done?