Some writers walk with confidence along their writing journey, never questioning the validity of their call to write or the veracity of the talent informing their work. I envy such people, and if you are one of them, please share your secret with the rest of the class. For most of us, writing a book is at once an emotional, artistic, and business undertaking.
As a writer, you create fantastical landscapes with a stretch of the imagination, but visualizing a world where nothing holds you back presents more of a challenge, at least most of the time. Completing a manuscript naturally entitles a writer to bragging rights. Never mind that your first draft has its share of passive voice verbs, duplicate words, and redundancies. It is beautiful, and you are remarkable for having written it.
At such a moment as this, a writer can resemble a teenager in the first throes of puppy love, blind to the flaws of the beloved. You bask in reflected glory until the prospect of self-editing nudges you. What? Pick apart your darling? It occurs to you with sudden urgency that the laundry needs folding, dust covers the car, and you really should do some social networking.
The time arrives when you can put off the dreaded task no longer. Out comes the blood-red pen. How did you miss that, and that, and that? You whip your manuscript into better shape, and send it off to beta readers.
You wait for feedback with varying degrees of patience, send out reminders, and resort to nail-biting. An awful reality hits your inbox. Not everyone sees your manuscript through rose-tinted lenses. They are wrong! Or (horrible thought) could they be right?
With more than one person pointing out the same weaknesses, you accept the painful truth that your sweetheart has a few wrinkles. Gritting your teeth, you summon the courage to revise your manuscript. You sweat. You question. You complete your final draft.
Before sending it away, you reread the first chapter to congratulate yourself on a job well done.
What were you thinking, starting your story that way? You rewrite the first chapter, but that raises the need for revisions in the next. You work your way by inches back through the manuscript, and at last arrive at your final final draft. You take a peek at the first paragraph, just to remind yourself how well it turned out.
Thank goodness you did. How did you miss that the opening events need rearranging for maximum impact?
After more labor, you save your really final manuscript. This time you don’t read back through it. Feeling like you are abandoning a child, you compose an email to your editor. You sweat. You question.
You hit send.
You wait and wait, and wait some more. Your email inbox receives frequent attention. No word yet, but it has only been a day. A week or three drags by in similar fashion, while at night your mind works overtime when you should be sleeping.
The golden email arrives. You take a deep breath and wait for your pulse to settle down before opening it.
Good grief! What does this editor want from you? Blood? You rant. You research other editors. You call a friend.
After rereading the editor’s comments with a calmer mind, you concede some points. A day goes by, and you look through them again. You mentally apologize to your editor and hunker down to make most of the changes and negotiate the rest. The edited manuscript wings back through cyber-space.
You take up pacing as a hobby.
On an otherwise-sunny day, a request for second edits slams into your inbox.
Why, oh why, did you ever think you could write? You fantasize about the other things you could be doing with your life, like running an espresso stand.
Oh, but look! An attractive premise beckons from the summit of the next hill. To reach it, all you have to do is climb back through the manuscript you are sick to death of. Forcing yourself to the keyboard and your ego to the mat, you begin.
Only now, with the clock ticking away, you can’t focus. You research espresso recipes when you should be working on edits.
Surviving on cold sandwiches and cereal, you forget to shower and lose more sleep. Finally, your manuscript is as ready as it will ever be.
You hit send.
You check your email once, twice, thrice. Nothing, but then it’s only the first hour. You lose count of the number of times you visit your email inbox, but you know how many days, hours, and minutes have dragged by.
One breathless afternoon, you discover a special email nestled among the plebeian others in your inbox. Your cursor hovers. You sweat. You question.
You open the email and uncork a bottle of champagne. Your imagination carries you on flights of fancy into worlds of delight. You send flowers to your editor.
The next morning dawns, bright and clear. You carry a steaming mug to your computer and start the climb up the next hill.
Over to You
Can you particularly identify with any part of the epic journey this post describes? If so, share your experience in the comments.