Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As Easy As Falling In Love

A lot of times people ask me when I know that a work is ready, complete and to the point where I need to submit it for publication. Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry answer to this, but I can tell you what it tends to be like for me:

Dread and Hate: There is a moment--usually brief--before I start writing that I am filled with dread and hate for the project. I have this vague, wispy idea of what it should be, and I know I'll never achieve the ideal, and so it sort of makes me sick to my stomach to think about writing it. 

Falling in Love: Somewhere along the way, usually within the first fifty pages of the manuscript, I start falling in love with it. The words sing, the characters are vivid, and the story's zinging along. 

Blind Love: ...and then I start having this sort of blind love for the project. I think every words perfect. I get very self satisfied. This feeling typically lasts all the way to when I write THE END...and as I stare at the whole manuscript, I have this sort of "this-is-the-best-book-ever-written-and-I-am-a-genius" sort of attitude. 

I've learned, after years of trial and error and a ton of rejections, that this is NOT the time to submit a manuscript for publication. This is the time to submit a manuscript to peers for critique. 

So, then I submit the manuscript for crits. And my feelings when I get back the critiques--which have NEVER said that the manuscript is perfect and I am a genius and deserve a cupcake--my feelings are this:

Anger and Denial: My initial reaction, no matter how much I love and respect my critique readers, is that they are WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And MEAN. And they're out to get me. So I usually read a crit, then give it a day before I feel...

Determination: I think this comes from my Southrn upbringing--I get this bull-headed attitude where I want to prove the critiquers wrong, and I'll write the best frexing book there ever was no matter how hard it is, so I pull up my boot straps and get to work. 

Until...

Falling in Love...Again: When I get to the point where I've started to fall back in love with the manuscript--that's when I know it's ready. I no longer have blind love for it, I can see the flaws, and I can see the bandages I used to patch it up after I broke it down, but for the most part, I love it again. 

And that's when I send it out.

12 comments:

E.R. King said...

Beautiful post! I agree with each description of the progressing emotions. Thank for sharing!

Alison said...

That sounds similar to how I feel, except the hate comes after I've been re-writing and all I can think about is how awful my manuscript is.

But I get to the love part eventually because it's hard to hate something you've put so much effort into.

Awesome post!

Bethany said...

You are my favorite author blog to read - you sound so authentic, you don't seem afraid to put yourself out there and I really like that. I don't know anything about writing (I'm more of the mathish type) but I think Across the Universe was "the-best-book-ever-written-and-(you)-(are)-a-genius" :)

Ava Jae said...

Wonderful post! I love the way you described each stage--that feels so dead on to the journey. Main difference for me is that I often agree with the critique I get back, which then brings on some feelings of embarrassment (wow, I thought that was ready? heh). Nonetheless, the rest of the feelings are stages of the same. :)

Slamdunk said...

I like your approach here Beth.

And I agree, critics are always wrong about my work; until I am forced to consider their perspectives at least.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think you deserve a cupcake for writing Across the Universe!! And for sharing your writing advice with us!

dellgirl said...

Hi, Beth. this is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it. Just popping back in to see what's new and to say hi.

Have a wonderful Weekend.

Christina Farley said...

This is so true! I totally am with you on this.

I think I might be the MEAN one- ha! But I ADORE everything you write. And I really think I'm the pickiest reader on the planet.

Miriam Forster said...

Absolutely true. And repeat for every subsequent edit. :)

Pk Hrezo said...

That pretty much sums it up, Beth. I always take a day or two as well to let crits sink in and not take offense. And wow, after a few months I can read my story and think, "What was I thinking? This is far from ready."

Christine Danek said...

This is great and true. Although, I have to get to the falling in love stage to indicate it's ready. Love this. Thanks.

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