Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is it Done Yet? by Marta Perry

How do we know when a manuscript is done? Is it like soup--that wonderful moment when all the flavors are blended to perfection and nothing is under-or-over-done? I just wish I had the answer to this one!

I tend to tell myself a manuscript is finished when I finally hit Send and off it goes to the editor. I've had that lovely feeling twice in the past two weeks: last week my novella for an Amish Suspense anthology for Love Inspired Suspense went out; and yesterday I hit Send on the second book in my current Amish Suspense series for HQN Books, Search the Dark. Joy! Celebration! A piece of chocolate!

Unfortunately, reality hits too soon. I will barely have gotten back to the WIP and engrossed myself in its world when revisions from the editors will arrive. By then, having divorced myself from those projects and fallen totally in love with the new one, I'll have to drag myself kicking and screaming to revisit them. I thought this story was done! Didn't I give it my all? It's time to walk around the house muttering to myself for an hour or a day, letting my whiny inner child have her say. As one of my grandkids is prone to say about homework when she wants to go out and play, "Isn't it good enough?"

I must confess, though, that once I regain my perspective it can be inspiring to see my precious  darling through the eyes of the editor. All those little loose ends and repetitions are dragged out into the light and must be dealt with. This should be strengthened, that should be trimmed. And suddenly I'm enthusiastic about the story again as I see how much better and stronger it can be.

So no, it isn't good enough, not yet. Non-writers are sometimes amazed at how collaborative a work of fiction is, even when only one name is on the cover. There's the agent, who helped to shape the original series concept; the editor, who contributed suggestions at the proposal stage and the revision stage; the writer friends, who offer support and cyber-chocolate as needed; and the author, alone with her computer but knowing help, advice, and support are only an e-mail away.

What about you? Whether you produce books or quilts, what do you feel when you finally say, "It's done!"?

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