How do you know when it’s time to stop editing and just hit send? My writing group was recently having a discussion about the editing process. It stemmed from a comment an author made about how once they finished a manuscript they just send it out and they don’t bother with revisions unless and editor sent them a revise and resubmit. Was I surprised by the comment? No. I know there are writers out there who want to be assured of a sale before investing the time to do extensive revisions. Me, I could never do that.
Being a part of professional writers organizations, polishing a manuscript until it’s as shiny as I can make it is sort of ingrained. For myself, I need to know that I’m putting my best work forward. I think about my most recent submission. I went through multiple rounds of critiques and beta reads before I was finally ready to hit the send button on the submission email. Believe me, I was half tempted to have someone do on more read through just in case. I stopped myself from doing that, but largely because my massive impatience kicked in. I just couldn’t deal with looking at those pages one minute longer. I wanted to be done with it and have it out of my hair. I wanted the sense of accomplishment that came with hitting the send button.
I think all of us writers could go round and round reading, critiquing, and tweaking a WIP in the hopes of polishing our manuscript to perfection. But, at some point we have to let it go. We have to put it out there for the world to view. So writers, how do you know when you’re ready to let that manuscript fly? If you haven’t submitted anything yet, why not? What’s holding you back?
Me, Rayna, and Melinda at the Grand Central Publishing book signing (RWA ’12)
This summer has been tough. Great, but tough. The end of June and beginning of July was spent working 12 – 16 hours a day on my revisions for CAPTIVE. I was so entrenched in my own world that I forgot to eat. I know that’s difficult to believe. I’ve never forgotten to eat before. Ever. But I did! In fact, one afternoon I took out some ground beef from the freezer to defrost so I could make tacos for dinner that night. I went back to my revisions and a little while later my daughter asked if I could tuck her into bed. I checked the time and it was 9:30! Where had the day gone? I had no idea it was so late. Who knows what the kids ate that night (probably chips and popcorn) but we all went without dinner. Bad mommy. 😦
On July 13th I finished my revisions five pound lighter (note: as a registered dietitian, I DO NOT recommend Revision Hell as a means to weight loss. There are easier ways. Trust me on this). I caught up on some housework I neglected for a month and then left for California five days later for family vacation, karate training with Sensei Advincula, and the Romance Writers of America conference. I’ll write more about RWA and my first ever book signing in a future blog. I returned home for four days (just enough time to wash loads & loads of laundry) before leaving for Lego Brickfair in Virginia where my son displayed his awesome D-Day moc of the invasion of Normandy (moc = my own creation). Click on the image to enlarge it. I got back on Sunday night and apparently had lost track of time again. I totally forgot it was my turn to blog this week. Ack! Hence no blog post last Monday. Bad blogger. 😦
The good news is: with my trusty laptop, I can write anywhere – hotel rooms, airport, airplane, Brickfair. The bad news is: when writing in public places, people tend to interrupt me to discuss their books or their idea for a book they’d like to write someday. I don’t mind discussing these things at all, but it does eat up my precious writing time. *sigh*
Of course, writing at home during summer vacation isn’t much better. I’m constantly being interrupted by kids needing something – usually it’s food or a ride to/from dance lessons, band practice or karate class. Cooking and driving tend to eat up a good chunk of writing time too. Unfortunately, I’m the type of writer who needs A LOT of time to think and create. I can’t squeeze in 20 minutes of writing here and there. It takes me that long to get back into my world after a disruption.
So although I love my kids and the sunny weather, I find myself wishing September 6th would just get here already. I long for uninterrupted writing time again. I’m probably the only person on earth eagerly awaiting summer’s end. Tell me…does anyone else out there want school to start now? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
This weekend is being spent editing. I have a work-in-process on its second round of revisions with a deadline looming. I also have first round edits on my June release due soon. Keeping my head in two books at once is trying, especially for those action scenes.
I’ve found two specific areas where I tend to go astray when working in multiple books. Timeline and character details. Scene by scene I am able to write and edit without difficulty. For example, I realized on the billionth reread of my WIP that, in the final climax scene, I forgot that it was nighttime.
Now I have to go back and figure out how my heroine does what she does in the freaking dark. It matters. It really matters. High action scenes are tight to keep the pace flowing. Not a lot of room for description here. Instead, action is built around the setting, which is wrong. Ahhhhh!
At the same time, I’m working on edits for my next release when I discover that once again, I’ve slipped in the time of day. Thank goodness I have an excellent editor to point out that my heroine is commenting on the sunset which occurred more than an hour ago. Big mental smack for me. And the most annoying factor? I distinctly remember looking up the sunset times for Maine in December.
So what does a slightly OCD writer do? I create a chapter by chapter timeline as I read thru my editor’s comments. This way, I can be sure I have the time of day correct not just in the current scene, but from scene to scene as well. It’s the time between the scenes and chapters that are slipping through the cracks as I move back and forth between books. Live and learn.
The second major issue was character details, especially those secondary characters. I wrote the June release a long while ago. What do those people look like anyway? I found the original note cards that I kept while I wrote the book (told you I was OCD), but flipping through the stack repeatedly got annoying. Fast.
I know some writers who fill out details character sheets for every person that appears in their books. Then I’d be flipping through pages or files while I edit. Instead, I’ve put together a quick spreadsheet to keep track of basic physical descriptions and anything special about each character. This way, I have one sheet on hand that contains all those really important details. It’s become very handy as I move back and forth between projects.
Since I’m recently published, I’m fairly new at the whole juggling projects thing. Do you have any tips to help writers stay on track when working in two or more books simultaneously?