Sunday, March 15, 2009

Writing Confessions and the Wisdom of Letting a Manuscript Rest

I have a confession to make... well maybe two.

1) I've broken my first New Year's resolution. I promised to write 6 days a week, and I've not written a word since last Monday. To be fair (make excuses?), I've had a headache since Monday. One bad enough to stay home from work on Tuesday and go the the emergency room on Friday. Staring at a computer screen was out of the question. Unfortunately, there were no sick day clauses in the resolution, so now it's officially broken. My lazy self is saying, "Hey, you're off the hook! Kick back and relax that routine a bit!" My I really want to become a published author self is saying, "Back on the wagon, girl!" Back on the wagon it is.

2) (I thought) I finished the revisions on my current WIP at the end of January. I targeted my first five agents, printed out my query letters and required chapters for the snail mail bunch, stuffed the envelopes and branded them with stamps, and I put everything in the car so I could go to the post office and mail the lot after work. I never made it. Is that a bad thing?

I don't think so. It's been six weeks since I worked on this manuscript. There's something to be said for reading it with fresh eyes. I was surprised, in a good way, about much of what I wrote. I was relieved that I hadn't sent out the manuscript when I realized that a good portion of a particular chapter didn't move the story forward. I cut 95% of it out of the book and placed it in an 'out-takes' folder. That was hard. I really liked that scene. I knew it didn't belong when I discovered I only had to re-write one line to fix the hole. I'm pleased with the results of this latest revision. Time to get up the nerve to send it out again. It's ready.

I'm glad I waited (got nervous, scared, cold feet...) to send out my book. I've decided that letting a WIP rest is a good thing. It's a practice I'll keep for future works. Live and learn!


Martha Flynn said...

Whoa - that's one heck of a headache - you're all better?

I haven't been keeping an outtakes folder - I like that idea!

Captain Hook said...

Rest is a good thing! Just taking a step back can give you a totally different perspective.

Yeah, headaches stink. I tend to get migraines and know exactly what you mean.

Rena said...

When I first started writing, I wasn't on any message boards or read any writer's blogs. I didn't know about the "putting it away and reading it later" deal. Had I done that, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble, heartache and postage! It makes so much sense, but sometimes it's hard to wait. The best thing is either force yourself to put it away, or just send it out once and see if you get any feedback.

I hope you're feeling better soon.

Kelly said...

I've had a week sick that I'll never get back too! My goal was to send out two things a week (I missed this two weeks ago...argh!) All we can do is forgive ourselves and keep at it! Hope you are feeling better!

nanmarino said...

That headache sounds horrible. I think there's a clause in new year's resolutions that if you have to go to the emergency room, you get a special dispensation. Take good care of yourself.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Martha - I still have the headache today, although the meds from the emergency room are keeping it to a dull roar. If I still have it tomorrow I'm going to my family doctor.

I got the idea of an outtakes folder from Stephanie Meyer's website. I thought it was fun to read the snippets about the Cullens that didn't make it into the book.

Captain Hook - So sorry! I don't wish a migraine on anyone!

Rena - I read about 'resting' a manuscript at Verlakays. The blueboards have been a tremendous education experience for me.

Kelly & Nanmarion - Maybe I will go back and write in that clause. I'm the author, after all. Right?!

Bish Denham said...

Hope you are feeling better soon.

And letting a manuscript rest is always a good thing.

CJ Raymer said...

Well, first let me say that I'm so sorry about that stupid headache you had. I hope you are feeling much better. (I suffer from migraines from time to time. The cluster ones are the worst. I hope you never have another one.)

Second, we all miss our best laid plans from time to time. We just have to make it work for us. And, you got it with realizing how great it was to pick up your MS after a little time away. It makes a load of difference.

I hope all goes well for you!

Anne Spollen said...

Right, let the ms rest; they're sort of like old fashioned bread. Remember how you had to let it rest so it would rise well? Same rule applies to manuscripts.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

good luck--I've been a bad slacker lately, too. putting things aside can be so helpful, I've got a piece I'm ignoring for another 6 months as I type this.