Over my years of writing, I have come to realize that one thing about writing is absolutely true: whatever I write is never finished.
After the original idea comes to me, it is all about process after that. I start with a vague idea of a storyline and characters. Maybe I'll play with rhymes in my head for awhile--a day, two weeks, two years. Maybe I'll ponder the characters and figure out a good conflict. I've learned, through patience and experience, that this process mostly happens in the background of my everyday life. While driving kids to school, folding laundry, washing dishes, or walking my dog, those ideas are percolating. Sometimes I'll hear a rhythm in my head which flows well for whatever it is I am writing. Sometimes I draw a blank. That's all part of the process.
Then, once I jot my notes in my journal, transfer notes onto a legal pad, and then type the manuscript onto the computer, I continue revising and revising and revising.
Last night, I attended a Christmas party where my St. Nicholas story was dramatized. As I sat listening to the text read to an auditorium full of people, I tried to not revise in my head. But it was impossible.
"Ooh," I thought. "That really wasn't the best word to use there. You should have drawn out the introduction more. You should have used a more descriptive verb, blah, blah, blah." This book was published several years ago, in 2003, perhaps? And still, it feels unfinished to me.
That is the joy and the curse of creative work.