I suppose I should start off by saying an early Merry Christmas and happy New Year, since my next blog post won’t be until January. I hope everyone’s holidays are full of happiness and joy.
There is No Stage in Writing That is Done by a Single Individual
As a writer looking for inspiration on the ‘net, it’s surprising how often you see something along the lines of “you’ll always feel like your work is unfinished.” I expected that to be true, but always with the small caveat that there’d be something to set your final draft apart from your previous drafts. If not, how else would you know it was time to call it quits?
I know for a fact that my fourth (and most recent) draft is still far from publishable. My intention was to plan out and then write a fifth draft, expecting the outline to help with the plot so all I had to fix was grammar. Unfortunately, I pressured myself so much to write the fifth draft to perfection, it was like (forgive the cliche) pulling teeth just to write a scene.
I ended up reaching out to a really good friend of mine to ask for her advice… or at least some words of comfort, like “you just gotta muscle through it” or something. Instead, she said something that completely threw me off guard and… yeah, made me a bit panicked too.
“Have you tried to send your manuscript anywhere before?”
Of course, I went on to try and explain to her that obviously I hadn’t, because it wasn’t ready yet, it still felt like a load of trash. It wasn’t a sparkly pearl like I knew it could be.
So she said something else: “You don’t do all the editing first by yourself.” Which, hello, duh. But I always thought: this is my story, I have to get the plot down right before I can send it to anyone for actual editing. She reminded me that this isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes what you need is not another draft, but simply someone who knows how to wield their fancy red pen in order to make your story shine.
Writing is an insanely difficult endeavor, for many reasons. One such reason is that it’s not exactly like building a house or, more obviously, like running a marathon. There’s no definable finish line (at least, not that I’ve seen), so sometimes you just have to be courageous and say that your novel is at a point where the best thing you can do is let someone else take a look.
“Death too must be earned.”