Monday, April 5, 2010

Leaving the Nest—Deadline Day

Charles Burchfield, The Mysterious Bird Today is my deadline for the second Memphis Barbeque book. I’m emailing it to my editor this morning.

I’m getting better with deadlines. I’ve always met them, but I’ve felt very reticent about the manuscript in the past. I think I’ve usually turned it in a little apologetically: “Here it is. For what it’s worth…”

Then, of course, there were the times I’d send a revised manuscript with an email. “I thought of something else I wanted to include in the book! (Or..I’ve found something wrong and corrected it.) Could you read this version of the manuscript instead?”

I’d keep picking at it, thinking about it. It’s just like pushing a child out of the nest…or not pushing the child out at all, in which case the child never grows up to accomplish its true purpose.

But I’m better now.

Here’s how I’ve learned to let go and let my manuscript leave the nest:

I’ve made sure that there aren’t any glaring errors by a careful proofread. After I’ve completed my careful proofread, I have my first reader and my agent read the manuscript to see if they find any glaring errors.

Then I remind myself that there weren’t any big mistakes in the manuscript.

I make a revision pass through the manuscript for pace and plot believability. And one for character and setting descriptions.

I remind myself that I’ve made it the best I could—but there will still be errors in the document. They won’t be huge errors, though, and the publishers have copyeditors to eliminate the ones I’ve missed.

I move on to the next project until my revision requests come in.

The combination of knowing I’ve carefully proofed, giving it to others to read, reminding myself that it’s been edited, and knowing that small errors aren’t the end of the world, has made it easier for me to loosen up about my deadlines.

How do you determine your manuscript is ready to submit or is ready for deadline? When is it ‘good enough’?

If you have time to pop over, I'm at author Susan Whitfield's blog today for an interview.