Shiny and New

[singlepic id=7 w=320 h=240 float=left]Getting a writing project to the completed draft stage is delightful, but there’s a downside.

If we were visual artists or dancers or actors, we could show off all our hard work. There would be an audience or viewers or, at the very least, we could hang it on the wall or look at ourselves in the mirror and gaze at our work’s glory in the privacy of our homes. When we writers have a precious project that we’ve sweated over and brought to a finished stage, we can’t readily enjoy it. It’s in our computer, or maybe it’s printed in manuscript form, but it’s not pretty, it’s not published. We can’t pull it out of our wallet and show it off to passers-by or stand on a crate in the railway station and read it out loud to an appreciative crowd.

We have to pass through the initial stage of euphoria with nothing more than our own feeling of having accomplished something wonderful. And what we have to learn is that just because it’s shiny and new, doesn’t mean it’s ready to show off.

Going from a completed first draft to a published piece of fiction takes a lot of skills, but patience is at the top of the list. After the butt-in-chair time of writing and rewriting, there’s a lot of waiting time. Waiting time interspersed with sharp peaks of euphoria, plateaus of more hard work, and yes, sometimes even valleys of devastation. Ultimately, if we’re relentless, we finally achieve a published work of which we can be proud.

Proud, but not euphoric.

So here’s the tip to novice writers: remember the waiting time. A completed first draft is something to be happy about but isn’t something to show to everyone you know and it certainly isn’t something to send to a publisher. Put it away for a few days, then get it out, read it out loud, do a thorough revision. Put it away again and do it again. Then, if you’re calmly pleased with it (note: this is different than euphoric!), give it to at least one trusted reader. Don’t be surprised if, when you get it back, it still hasn’t reached perfection. At that point, you call up your reserves of patience and get busy on, yet one more round of, revising and polishing.

Once that goal of getting published is finally achieved, your work may not be new anymore, but it will be blindingly shiny.

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