Sunday, January 14, 2007

Let it Cool

It's rare, especially on weekends, but today I managed to accomplish excatly what I set out to do.

I spent the afternoon away from the computer, in the basement with the laundy running and the tools of my trade spread out around me. My objective was to make the requested revisions to my Midsummer Night's Steam novella, La Mirage.

I did it the old fashioned way with lined paper and pen, scissors and tape. I literally cut and pasted the new scenes in. It may seem like a primitive way to work but it for me, it does the trick. I went through the whole manuscript and now I have a new first draft.

I'm going to let it cool for a couple of days, then type it up and let it cool some more, then edit and let it cool, proof read and let it cool and then I'll submit the finished product. It sounds like I'm baking bread, doesn't it?

Why so much cooling? I've always believed the only way to approach something you write is with fresh eyes. You need to distance yourself from your words sometimes in order to be objective. I never understood writers who say, "Oh, I typed THE END today and sent my story off to agents." WHAT?

How could a book or novella or anything, go from THE END to agent in less than a day? It's impossible. Unless you have an established relationship with an agent who is begging for your next manuscript and has editors waiting with baited breath for your every keystroke, a rough draft is NEVER agent ready. It just never is. Nor is it editor ready unless the editor of your seven book deal is chomping at the bit to finish your world renowed series and get the movie rights to that last book sold and your first two initials are JK.

If that's not the case, then let your work cool after you've typed THE END, no matter how much it kills you, put it aside for a day or two, or maybe a week. When you pick it up again, it will look different. You'll be able to see some of the typos and notice those commas that don't belong. You will be able to smooth out that awkward dialogue and hone your chapter ending hooks to razor sharp points. At the very least, you'll have a new perspective on your work. It's worth a shot.


Jennifer Elbaum said...

Congrats on finding and using a process that works for you. Is the laundry a necessary component?

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

LOL, no, but it helps. I think the constant hum of the washer and dryer drowns out the background noise in my head and helps me concentrate. Plus, I feel better knowing I'm accomplishing two tasks at once.