Learn to let go – the book is finished

Nothing ticks me off more than an Author who is constantly changing and revising their book after publication. Some Authors do this every couple of weeks and it is as though they are obsessed with a perfection very few of them will ever attain. I find it very frustrating and there I am thinking, Go away and stop wasting my time. Eventually I will snap and tell them enough is enough and that they have to pull their heads in or the tiger will come down from the Mountain.

It is easy enough to change e-books but there is still time involved; and it is time that you should not be asking your Publisher to expend. Changing print books is a little more involved (and expensive). There is a more serious reason why we don’t allow constant changing of manuscripts though and that has to do with professionalism. Publishers do not exist to be sounding boards for Writers and Websites (even ones located in Australia) do not exist for Writers to test the waters with their work. By the time you come on board with us it should be a given that you are a writing professional. It is time for the serious stuff and yet so many Writers are blissfully unaware of the message this act of changing their manuscript sends out to both the Publisher and the Reader.

Basically it says you are a dork. No apologies for that. You are unprofessional. You have not finished your job. You are still at the kindergarten stage.

And… you have not learned when to let go. No one will deny the writing process is intense and if you are really good at it you will be consumed by it. Spending time writing a book can be a solitary experience but it is one that can also lead to tremendous insight and personal fulfilment. You generally know you are on a winner if you get to know (and like) your characters to such an extent that they are so real you can have a conversation with them in your head. This is what I call “the higher plane” and once you reach that level you will experience a euphoria that confirms that yes, you ARE a Writer.

The process of writing should begin with a clear idea and lots of planning, drawing up of outlines and character sketches and so forth. The jig-saw puzzle will get bigger every day you write. By the time your book is finished you should know every aspect of it inside out. You should be able to quote whole passages from it and you should know exactly why the character in Chapter Six felt the sudden urge to chop off his mother-in-law’s head. You should know that you will be toying with your Reader’s emotions when you choose certain imagery and symbolism and the reward should be that you can anticipate the effect they will have on your Reader.

Heavy stuff. And when you are “finished” the real work begins. All the analyzing and editing, re-writing, seeking other opinions and road-testing your product. I’d say the majority of Authors who need to constantly change their work do not have enough confidence in their ability to trust their own instincts. So what do they do? Oooooooh, this is the scary bit. They take the plunge… and show their spouse. No one else, just their spouse or some other close relative. Instead of seeking the help of a professional like an Editor or at the very least an experienced Writer, they leave it to someone who is going to say all the right things (read things they want to hear). Hence the questions remain unresolved. The doubt lingers on.

Everyone needs help in these initial stages. The book should be sorted out from a technical perspective before you go off and start garnering interest from potential Readers. I have a person whom I have known for about 25 years who looks at my stuff. I got to know her all those years ago when we were co-editors of a local interest Newsletter. She is a former Tertiary English Teacher who is highly qualified and I do not know anyone more suited to being a literary critic. She is also brutally honest. She does not let our friendship get in the way of her opinions. She has tremendous analytical skills and if something stinks she tells me so – and I respect that. I respect her knowledge of language and the fact that she knows what works in certain situations and what does not. I am very lucky to have her to keep me on the straight and narrow and I would urge all Writers to seek out someone like this.

So… you can get help from a professional but that is still only part of the whole deal. Let’s go back to YOU. Forget talking to other people – the final decision is yours. You have to at some stage be prepared to ask yourself, Is this book the best it can possibly be? Have I done all I can? Am I satisfied with it? If you come up with any negatives at this stage then the answer is:  You are not finished. Put the thing in a draw, take a break and come back and start again and then ask the same questions down the track. A lot of Authors rush in and try and place their work with Publishers before they have resolved all their own writing issues. And sometimes the manuscripts are accepted and the publishing ball starts rolling. And then the trouble starts.

Do yourselves a favour and make sure you are not in the dork category. Your baby has been born, you have fed and nurtured it and the time will come when you have to let it go. A true professional will know instinctively when to let go because they are honest enough with themselves to be able to say that everything feels right. YOU will know after you have done everything you possibly can and you can be satisfied that you have done a good job. That is really all anybody can possibly hope to do – be satisfied. Your book is in the lap of the gods now. It is no longer your property. It belongs to your Readers. Deal with that.

Article Source: http://www.redsofts.com/articles/

L P King is an Australian Writer, Publisher and Principal of Mountain Mist Productions – http://www.1stmist.com

Click here to return to the index of Articles

Facebook Comments