Slowly, tortuously, ecstatically, indifferently. So many emotions swamp me when I think of the fifth edit of my manuscript, finally ready to find a home with a publisher.
I alluded to this in a previous post, but once you finish the first ever manuscript, you are delighted and the clouds just about part…before rapidly resuming their positions. That was the only real moment I thought I’d achieved anything of significance. Ever since then, I have been editing, re-editing and editing some more. Then came the beta readers. Of the five I sent my story to, only two got back to me having read the story, and every writer will tell you having that feedback is invaluable. My manuscript was pretty much ready to go, but they highlighted chronological issues, thematic grammar mistakes (possessive/genitive), and told me what they thought was missing, again allowing me to add a few more touches to tighten it up. Whether it is one brilliant reader or several, get beta readers.
As far as advice, all I can really offer is to write, and write, every day. Like you haven’t heard that before. Some days I battered out 3000 words, other days the chair and myself began to share DNA, pushing 8-10k. But each day I had a target of 3000 minimum. If I felt lazy, I’d have that little voice in my head reminding me that I was shirking work.
Once you have the first draft done, keep in mind you will be editing at least three more times. Factor that into your goals. It can also seem daunting and make the actual first draft intimidating. ‘Oh what? I write this masterpiece and then have to edit it over and over again?’ Just focus on the story at hand, the rest will take care of itself.
Well, my short stories have fallen off a little due to my editing time, and I’ll be lining up literary agents by Wednesday. The work never stops to get your book out there.
A final note: I decided against self-publishing, despite the larger royalties, creative control etc. as I feel my manuscript will do well in paperback. We shall see how it all goes. I know I’d regret not going the traditional publishing route in the future irrespective of how it turns out.