A Manuscript’s Hibernation

It’s been a busy spring. Almost a month in South America for manuscript three. The relaunch of the public platform (website, author photos, YouTube videos…). Four weekends away from my hermitage on writing or family matters. It seems I’ve done everything except write.

DSC01891Mr. Bear, a 400-pound cinnamon celebrating hibernation’s end outside my window last week.

My second manuscript begins a grueling disastrous calamitous bloody necessary professional edit in thirty days. I haven’t touched it in sixty. It’s been hibernating, like Mr. Bear. Resting, like a yeasty dough. And like that dough, it now must be kneaded.

To maintain some semblance of competance, I’m sweeping it to prepare for the editor. Ignoring it for two months was the best thing I could do.

(In case you’re wondering, ignoring it is a luxury. By the end of July, I’ll have two professionally edited manuscripts, and a third almost complete, ready for professional edit by year’s end. It’s important to distinguish between a professional and a self-edit, BTW. If and when that publishing-contract phone call comes from my agent, I’ll have enough lead time to market all my work well, rather than being overwhelmed by churning out more AND market simultaneously. I like a head start in life.)

The concept of healthy distance applies to writing. I’m not catching all logic flaws and grammar errors—I birthed this 82,000-word document, and love it, so I’m almost as immune to its problems as I am to the imperfections in my children. (They don’t have any.) But the fact that the prose has slipped into my deep subconscious allows me to see things more clearly, ask questions, investigate structure, and most importantly, look for options. Is there a better way to frame this scene? Am I telling instead of showing? Is the sense of smell present in this chapter? Am I being repetitively redundant? (That’s a joke.) Questions I couldn’t ask immediately after finishing the document flood my mind now, and I dissect with surgical skill, knowing the blood will REALLY flow in a month or so.

My advice? If you can, let your work rest. Read favorite writers, see good movies, get exercise, hang with family and friends. Then reapproach the work as a neighbor, not a mother. I suspect you’ll be proud, but able to make constructive changes to create a more professional, compelling story.

How do you approach your self-edit? Do you believe a self-edit is possible? I’m interested, as always!

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