From an interview with Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin in The Guardian:
How do you know a novel is finished?
When the deadline is approaching. I finish a first, second and third draft, then my wife reads it and suggests changes. The next draft goes to my editor and agent, who suggest more changes. I’m often still tweaking after it’s been typeset – so it’s finished only when it’s published and you can’t make any more changes. If you take it down off the shelf again, you’ll always see things you’d have done differently. That’s one of the things that keeps writers writing: the fact that there’s always more you can do.
What’s the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That we’re introspective, sensitive souls and have arcane knowledge. I used to think that: whenever I heard that someone had taken 10 years to write a novel, I’d think it must be a big, serious book. Now I think, “No – it took you one year to write, and nine years to sit around eating Kit Kats.”
. . . .
What’s been the low point of your career?
My first novel was turned down by half a dozen publishers. And even after having published five or six books, I wasn’t making enough money to live on, and was beginning to think I’d have to give up the dream of being a full-time writer. I remember going into a bookshop in Edinburgh in about 1992, and they had none of my books on the shelves. I walked up to a member of staff and said, “How come you’ve not got any Ian Rankin books?” And he said, “Oh, he’s just not very popular.” It made me more bloody-minded than ever.
. . . .
Is there anything about your writing life you regret?
It’s a lovely pair of furry handcuffs to be in, but the more successful you get, the less time you get to write. It seems that the actual writing is taking up less and less of my life, and I’m not happy about that.
Link to the rest at The Guardian