“Most nonfiction writers have a definitiveness complex. They feel that they are under some obligation—to the subject, to their honor, to the gods of writing—to make their article the last word. It’s a commendable impulse, but there is no last word.”
~ William Zinnzar, On Writing Well
This reminds me of the name of the blog that Craig Childs writes for: The Last Word on Nothing. I recently wrote a piece for Assignment Magazine in which I got caught up in definitiveness. The working title was “The Moment of my Enlightenment,” which I felt burdened to define accurately to the absolutely precise – last word. There was a suggested 750-word limit, which I’ve’ stretched to 1,000 once before. For this piece, I wrote 2,000 words to try to get it right. After six or seven rewrites, I got it down to 460 words and changed the title to “Touching Betelgeuse.” I couldn’t quite whittle it down to the last word, but it’s a lot less than where I started.