Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wait, no--Give me a few more days! Okay, fine (deep breath) I'll send it.

I blitzed it last week as you might have noticed. That's all right, though, because then you all went and read other blogs or saved some time by not wading through one of mine.

I like to set goals for my writing, a little milestone list to check off and mark my progress. Last week, that changed. In a moment of quick decision I threw the unconfident perfectionist in me out the window and committed to three week's worth of deadlines. And I've been so busy since, I haven't missed that other side of my ego at all.

Deadlines differ from goals in that deadlines involve other people. You make a promise to them by a certain time frame. In my case, I stopped fussing and tweaking over my manuscript to send out the first part to beta readers. Do I think it's ready for other eyes. Definitely not! (And it never will meet my idea of perfect.) Should I have done it? Yes. There comes a time when you find all you are doing is combing through the same material over and over to tweak, and tweak, and tweak without knowing if the whole thing even works.

In a mad rush, I sent it. I spent every spare minute of last week splicing together my last round of major edits for Part 2, so it's ready to go when my reader's are. (I kind of blew it apart in order to move scenes around and create new chapter boundaries.) Can I say: what a rush! There was no time to sit back and brood. There was no time to leave something undone because I can always get to it down the road. There was no leeway for mental blocks. Anything I'd hesitated on whether to keep or not was cut.

To my surprise, I also ended up writing two new chapters in two hours. They were concise, tense, and for a scary period of time they almost upset the rest of the book. Almost, but didn't. I nearly panicked Friday night over a couple of plot holes I found. (Funny how chopping away a bunch of exposition uncovers things like that.) I worked furiously on Saturday to plug things up.

To tell the absolute truth, writing to deadline nearly made me ill. You see, it's impossible for me to set aside what I do all day. I still had to fulfill my duties and keep my personal priorities straight. I'm very grateful my family let me hoard the spare hours to work on writing. The end result: a breathless rush of days and little sleep.

I have another whirlwind week of editing to deadline ahead of me. I think I've acquired a taste for it. I've also surmised that when those deadlines are met, I need time off to recuperate.

Even though I haven't received feedback from my beta readers yet, can I just tell them publicly "thank you" right now, for pushing me to send the manuscript to them. I would have been comfortable sitting on it for another couple of months, tweaking away, otherwise. I'm not in a hurry to make a fool of myself to professional eyes. But - what I did learn this month - is that it's okay to be a fool to friendly eyes. Letting the manuscript go is mandatory for anyone serious about publication. Then the trick is to keep so busy you don't have time to fret over what your readers' reactions are.

Have any of you had a hard time letting go of a manuscript so other people could read it? What do you do to keep away anxiety once that's done? (I'll need some good suggestions for when Part 3 is sent off and there's nothing left to edit to deadline for.)

1 comment:

  1. Oddly, I have no problem flinging my mss out to people over the internet. It's the thought of face-to-face contact with a friend or relative who has read my work that makes me sweat.