Monday, May 11, 2009

At what point . . .

. . . do you push the baby out of the nest? No, I’m not talking about an actual baby. Please, I’m not heartless. The baby I am talking about is . . . the writing project you’ve been endlessly editing for years and years and years (OMG, where did that grey hair come from??).

Why is Scott writing this post, you're thinking? Okay, maybe you're not thinking that, but this is my blog and I'm allowed some poetic license. Go here and you’ll see the inspiration for my post. Davin’s wonderful post, and all the great comments, started the thought process for this post.

How many edit processes do you go through before you’re ready to query? One, two . . . twelve? Do you ever feel you are ready to query?

At what cost, brilliance? Does the brilliance of your writing suffer if you (sorry English teachers everywhere) query after the fifth draft? The sixth? The twelth? Does your frustration increase if you never, ever, not in a trillion years think your writing is good enough? Where/when does the madness end?

I look at my work as the building of the human body. The rough draft is the skeleton, and each subsequent draft is the muscles, organs, skin, etc., until the finished product is before me. Now, this may seem an odd way to look at my writing, but it is what works for me. Writing is a process. Editing is part of that process. Rough Draft to Fifth Draft is a process. I do a complete read through every time with a colored pen in hand to scritch-scratch away as I read. I add/delete here, there and every where. I’m never truly satisfied with the final product.


Yes, you read that correctly: I’m never truly satisfied with the final product.

Still, that’s just me. I want everything perfect. I just understand that, based on my criteria, perfection does not exist. If I hold onto my ideal of perfection, then the baby will never be pushed out of the nest. It will sit on my desk, endlessly, collecting dust until the next edit phase, and never journey out into Queryland. I want my baby to journey out into Queryland. I want to push it out of the nest and, like every parent out there, hope it flies as far as it can fly with as few bumps along the way as possible.

Is it wrong to want such a thing for my baby? Is it wrong to want to share the brilliance of my writing with a truly unsuspecting world? Of course not! It is the dream of every writer.

So, the point to my rambling, boils down to a simple question: at what point are you ready to push your baby out of the nest?

Now, before you answer that question, please go here, read Davin’s post and all the comments, and truly think about your response. Do you have not so good sentences and paragraphs in your beloved manuscript? Are you truly comfortable and confident with what you have written?

Here, dear readers, is the . . . well, can’t think of the proper word, hate it when that happens . . . Basically, if you are comfortable and confident with what you have written, then send it out to Queryland. Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance (dang, shouldn’t have watched Mamma Mia for the gazillionth time) . . . on your writing.

What all this doesn’t mean, is never stop aspiring for perfection as Scott (not me, the Scott from Literary Lab) so aptly put it in his comment to this post. Keep honing your writing, polishing it to a brilliant shine with every word you write and edit. Just don’t let your polishing become so obsessive that your baby never leaves the nest. I’m just saying . . .


ElanaJ said...

Oooh, I like the skeleton and organs and skin analogy. That's a good one. I don't really know when I'm ready. Wait, that's not true. I know when I'm ready when I can't do any better. Other people have read it and I've made the changes I feel like I should. That's when you're ready.

Davin Malasarn said...

As I've been working on my novel for a few years, a lot of my peers have told me that they suspect I'll never be satisfied with my novel enough to send it out. But I do end up at the finish line, eventually.

First, I'm nearing done because I don't feel like I have the energy or enthusiasm to push on this project anymore. Second, some of the things that I don't like about the book have become built in, meaning, changing it would require reinventing a third to half the book. I'm not willing to do that. I'd rather write a new book.

So, I guess my point of pushing the book out of the nest results from me not being willing to fix it anymore. It's an emotional state rather than an actual assessment of the book. My proof that I can feel finished is the fact that I sent out queries to three agents earlier this year. I only stopped because a reader gave me good feedback that I decided to take, which brought me back to the revisions.

Scott said...

Elana - at what point, can't you do any better? For me, it's when I feel I'm nitpicking my writing and just looking for things to change. It is at that point, when I 'step away' from the editing. : )

Davin - I understand completely. And, to add a different perspective - perhaps you've just reached the point where you need to push the baby out of the nest, and not necessarily are not willing to fix it anymore. Does that make even a little sense? : ) I also don't think that we are ever totally through with the revisions. There is always something we feel will need changing. It's kind of like my mother making comments that my hair's too short or too long, but never just right. Sigh. I love Mom, really I do, but that brow quirking slighlty when she looks at my hair (and I've been out of the nest for many years) . . .

Elana and Davin, just keep writing!


Reason Reanimator said...

I completely stop revising when I start revising back to what I had originally written--duh! At that point I've tried all the possibilities I can think of and apparently start repeating them.

My stopping my revisions really has nothing to do with "submitting" as I no longer submit, but has everything to do with polishing the heat and heart out of works. I'm very, very careful about this. I don't like reading bloodless writing, nor do I like writing it.

Michelle McLean said...

I'll have to agree with Elana (as I do on most things) :D I rely on my crit partners to help me know when it's ready. If left to my own devices, I'd either send it out way too soon or never send it at all. Having those outside opinions really helps me see my manuscript as it really is :D

Lady Glamis said...

Dave, it's important to keep our perspective clear. We need to make it the best we can. Part of that is learning what our best can be!

I'm with Elana in that relying on our crit partners and beta readers is sometimes a good place to start.

Litgirl01 said...

I'm going to try the whole "pushing the baby out of the nest" thing this evening. Hope it doesn't splatter everywhere. That will be a lot of paper to pick up! I'm feeling so cheeky today! :-D

Scott said...

LitGirl01 - throw some pillows down first, just in case. : ) Best of luck!


Scott said...

As a follow up . . .

The 'what point' sometimes arrives when your Beta Readers, upon hearing that you are going to tweak things just a bit, tell you to STOP (in the name of love). Yes, they did tell me to stop when I mentioned the tweaking part, but they didn't break out into song. : )

So, as a side note, sometimes it is our Beta Readers who know best.