Originally Posted by Fluribus
Anything can be overdone. Would you like to spend the rest of your life working on one novel? There are too many examples of perfectionists who continue to whittle a perfectly fine piece until they have nothing but sawdust. [...]
Can you actually offer such examples? (Rhetorical question. Obviously you can't give examples because the work was whittled away and no one will ever know whether it was ever worth anything in the first place.) Yes I've heard talk of people that fiddle with a novel for large parts of their life and never publish, but I don't actually know any. If such do in reality exist, whether they turn out to be perfectionists, or "procrastonists" (people that never work up the courage to publish - I better be careful or I may turn out to be one of them), is more difficult to guess.
It's not too hard to come up with examples of novels that could have done with more work (curiously enough some of the examples I would give are some famous authors whose editors appear to let their later books get away with more than they should). There are also some examples of great books that were developed over very long periods (eg. "Lord of the Rings" was ostensibly written over 12 years but when you look at the background work involved you might say it was more like 40+ years).
But I find it difficult to come up with examples of books that I can say were overworked (rather than just naturally boring or whatever). This isn't proof that they don't exist, or even that I haven't read them, only that I find them difficult to identify as specifically overworked.