Friday, 24 June 2011

When To Hit Send

Sending 
Photo by rayced
When is the right time to send your manuscript out into the world? After I’ve spent months slogging over initial drafts, nit-picking over editing rounds, checking every use of the word “gaze”, I find myself itching to submit the story.

Over time, I’ve learned it’s better to resist that temptation, and to let the whole story sit at the back of my mind and simmer for a while. But I’m impatient. And I feel I’m wasting time, not adding to the word count, not being a writer. But that simmering time isn’t unproductive. I know fresh ideas about my story will creep into my mind. Some will be big, but most will be little tweaks — a better adjective or verb, layering in some setting, using the five senses. It’s a bit like cooking a winter stew. You have to let your story simmer on the backburner for a while, add in a few seasonings — some pepper, parsley, maybe a bit of lemon rind. There are no short cuts to this slow cooking.

So I dither and fuss quite a bit before I make that plunge. It’s even worse if what I’m sending out is the result of a Revise & Resubmit. This happened to me a few months’ back when a senior editor sent me a detailed R&R letter. I must have read that revised manuscript until I got cross-eyed, until I wasn’t even reading the words anymore, they were so ingrained in my eyeballs.

But after a while I have to hit that send button. If I don’t, the story nags at me, taking up valuable thinking space which I should be devoting to the next piece of writing. It’s as if the characters won’t leave until I boot them out the door. I’ve done my best with them (at least, I think I have), and it’s time for them to venture out into the world.

And of course, when/if the rejection does come back, and I re-read my story and see all its flaws in crystal clear vision, invariably I thunk my head and say, “Of course! Why didn’t I see that before I sent it?”

Which just goes to show you, there’s never a right time to hit send.

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