Funny story. I was waiting in line to board a bus for an elementary school field trip when a lady I hardly knew leaned into me and said, “I heard you’re a writer.” I nodded and turned my attention back to the five boys I was in charge of wrangling. She sidled in closer than I would have liked and said, “anything I would have read?”
I shook my head, telling her I was just finishing edits on my first manuscript. “Edits?” she said puzzled. “Isn’t it done when you write ‘The End?'” I stifled a laugh and shook my head before one of my charges took off in the direction of a fast-moving bus. After I pulled the kid away from the tires, I wanted to give him a hug. Grateful he was safe and, if I must be honest, glad I’d gotten out of the conversation.
Telling anyone you’re a writer is a tricky thing. Many people consider it a hobby and not a real job. But there are many of us who would insist that it’s a full-time job if you take it seriously. It might not happen from 9-5 – but it still takes a lot of time and hard work to get it done. And no, you’re not done when you write the final line.
I think that’s where the work truly begins. You’ve let your subconscious flow and words have spilled onto the page. But most of us would admit the words aren’t always logical and most of the time only make sense to us.
The edits are the true process of writing. Looking at the story as a whole and tooling it down until it is a coherent read. The journey doesn’t end there though. The next step, at least for me, is to send it to my beta readers and critique partners. Then after days (maybe weeks) of hand wringing, you get their notes and its back to more edits. This process could go on for a while if you have plot holes, dialogue issues, etc…
Once this process is complete, it’s on to the final read through. All 200-300 pages read out loud to catch any awkward sentences or jarring dialogue.
Yes, it’s a lengthy process and one I’ve been through with three manuscripts now. Does it seem crazy? Yes. Would you as the writer put yourself through the same process? I can’t answer that for you. All I know is that when I send that query, I want to know my work is as polished as it can be.
So when I think back to that woman’s question about writing “The End,” I laugh. If she only knew what it took to write a manuscript – and to finally know that it’s only done when it’s done.
So what about you fellow writers? How do you know when your manuscript is finally finished? What processes do you go through to make it shine? Post a comment and let me know!
One last thing… Congrats to TJ who won the 100th Blog Post giveaway. She gets an amazing collection of YA books as well as a query and first 1K critique from the WONDERFULLY TALENTED Lisa and Laura Roecker. More exciting giveaways are being planned for the new year. STAY TUNED!