When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2 NIV
I decided between my homeowner’s association duties and polishing a manuscript, I needed to take a break.
I’d go for a walk, but we’re having a storm (sounds like a good excuse to me). Now that it has started to hail a little I think my excuse is even better.
Polishing a manuscript is by far more difficult than writing that first draft!
When I was at the fantastic Kentucky Christian Fiction Writer’s conference in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, two weekends ago, I had a request from an agent for not only the story I’m currently writing, but the three completed manuscripts that have been resting on the thumb drive in the drawer. Now when I started writing that last statement would have been manuscripts gathering dust in a drawer. But a lot has changed in the technology world since I started writing.
Even more has changed in the publishing world.
But the process of writing a book from beginning to end has not changed.
Anyway, the completed manuscripts need to be freshly polished. And no, this type of polishing does not include any nice smelling dust spray and rags. That’d be way to easy.
I don’t know about all authors, but when I’m writing that first draft the words flow. They aren’t necessarily great words, but the story comes out in rapid fire flashes. My characters are talking to me. The story is like a movie rolling in my head and my fingers can’t fly across the keyboard fast enough.
Then I edit. That’s when work begins. Here is where I hope I find all the holes in my plot. You know the kind of things like a character sitting in the middle of the living room in one scene and standing in the middle of the yard in the next with no explanation of how they got there. Or their eye color mysteriously changes.
Now I’m done, right?
Well not exactly. I have to begin again and start killing my darlings. Okay….for the nonwriters reading this…. no it does not involve physical violence. However, I’ve been known to feel like committing physical violence at times. Killing my darlings is going through and taking out all those beautiful passages I absolutely love but don’t do a thing to move my story forward. It is ruthless. And a bit bloody when I decide to work in ol’ school technology and use a red pen on paper.
So, NOW I’m finished. I have the first draft and the first edit is finished and I’ve killed my darlings.
It’s done. Right?
Now I have to polish it. Do all of my sentences start with the same word? How many times have I used the character’s name when they are the only person in the scene? How many times have I used he or she? Am I writing in deep point-of-view or being lazy and saying things the easy way? And are they really a he or a she….we will not discuss the number of times I have found myself using he for the heroine or she for the hero. That’d be WAY to embarrassing.
Argh!!!! Will it never end?
Realistically it could never end. I can polish the manuscript to such a high sheen that it can blind me. Truth is, as the author, I’m blinded by it before I ever get to the high sheen polish. I know what’s it’s supposed to say. But does it really say it? If I have the leisure that’s when I put it away for a month or so and come back to it with fresh eyes.
The truth of the matter is that I’ll always find something, big or little, that I can change.
I have to come to a point that I say “I’ve done my best.”
That’s when I put on my brave face and send it out ….and WAIT!
If you are a reader, HAPPY READING! Someone’s bled a lot of red ink over the story you are enjoying.
If you are a writer, HAPPY WRITING! You continue writing because you love the journey from the germ of the idea through the pain of birthing the story and raising it to a full-grown book and hope it finds a reader who will enjoy it.