Come join me Sunday, July 30th!

Come join me Sunday, July 30th!
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore- San Diego

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Got patience? If not, then don’t be a writer.



There are lots of things a writer needs: determination, a fertile mind, a grasp of the language they’ve chosen to write in.  But I’d add patience as a major virtue. 

So much of what we as writers do involves taking our time, cooling our heels, waiting.  Even for people who write fairly fast, books always take far longer to finish than we think, and editing often takes lifetimes.  Then there’s the waiting game while submissions are out with agents, then once we’ve found that dream agent, there’s more waiting time while the agent sells our work.  Then…you guessed it- more waiting once the editor, senior editor, marketing, and the entire company debate whether your book can make money.  And a yes answer leads to lots more waiting.

But today I’d like to talk about a much more subtle patience, the ability to pull back, to keep a work from being finished, or if done, keep it from going out because something isn’t quite right. I just recently went back into editing my steampunk book after a hiatus.  When I finished it I knew I wasn’t totally happy with the climax and ending, but kept editing around it. 

Then a few months ago I ripped the weak parts out.  Otherwise I’d keep coddling them.  Then I did the hardest thing for any writer to do- I ignored the book. I started a new one, did edits on the others.  But my problem child needed time.  I had to give it and I time to forget the original climax and ending, and to re-build a new one.

Of course if you wait long enough, you need to re-read and edit your entire story to get back to that trouble spot.  Got there yesterday.  I’m still working on re-building the missing chunk, but it’s so much easier to do with time between me and my original mis-step.

What about you?  Have you ever stepped away from a project?  Or the opposite, have you sent something out without giving it a time-out?

8 comments:

  1. Good post. I think you are talking about judgment when it comes to knowing when to edit a book or send it out, or leave it sit and come back to it later. That definitely involves patience but it also involves the experience you gain by writing, getting feedback, learning to dispassionately judge your own work, etc.

    I step away from my work all the time. I am one of those people who probably edits too much and wait to long to send (I think they are called "perfectionists", LOL) rather than an early submitter.

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    1. True judgement is involved too, I think it works alongside patience to keep us from ourselves ;)

      Thanks for coming by and commenting Janet!

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  2. I step away often. I recently had the experience of not wanting to revise the final page and a half of a novella. I knew I was procrastinating, almost beating myself up about it but it was my mind's way of telling me, let this sit and then revise again. I did and I'm glad I did.

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    1. That's a very good warning you got there Suzanne.Sometimes maybe we sub consciously know we need more time before we dive back in?

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  3. One of my big problems after I first started writing was sending things out too early. I'd revise until I was so sick of the manuscript I couldn't look at it anymore, then figure I was done. Unfortunately, no.

    I just finished editing one of my earlier manuscripts--so much easier to do now than it was just after I wrote it.

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    1. Oh how well I know the "sick of it" stage Shoshana! LOL- that's what got me into this current pickle with the steampunk book. I got to the I am DONE stage and wrapped things up a bit too quickly. :) I agree, it's much easier to shred your own work with distance!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  4. I'm an the poster-child for impatience... It really is a miracle I stuck with it and finally got published...

    For me I had to move on and write other things. It's much easier to edit if you can set it aside so you're not so in love with it as you were when you first finished.

    Great blog Marie!!! And good luck with that edit! :)

    Lisa

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    1. LOL- you and me both Lisa! I think that's why I have so many books- I get antsy to send something out, but know it's not ready- so start another one!

      But you are also a poster child for sticking with it- I'll just keep saying, "what would Lisa do about this?". Keep going.:)

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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