I have been quiet on this blog recently, and that is because I have been trying to finish my novel. When I attended the Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme in November last year (see here for my post about this), I was lucky enough to be given feedback on the 2nd draft of my novel by a publisher. A literary agent and successful author also saw the first 50 pages of my book and gave me some more excellent feedback.
Since that programme, I have been trying to work through the whole manuscript again to a level where I feel happy to resubmit it. It has been difficult to find the time, but in the last couple of months I have written early in the morning, and in the evening in an effort to get this done. It’s not really a chore: I love the time I spend writing, and I love the feeling that each line I edit improves my manuscript.
About ten minutes ago, I wrote ‘The End’ on this third draft. A great feeling, but one that leaves me feeling a bit uneasy and uncomfortable. As a writer, when do you know when to stop? I feel that I could keep redrafting this again and again ad infinitum, but I also know that I am getting to the point where I am losing objectivity. I know the story so well, and the characters, that I am filling in the blanks that may or may not be on the page. I find it hard to read it as a reader would, because I know what I’m trying to say.
I am also impatient. I started this book almost two years ago, when my first child was a few months old: she is two next week. I want to put it out there, to take the risk and hope that I can secure an agent and publisher for it. But I know as a writer that it’s important to wait, to put it away for a while, then look again. To resist firing off an email, attaching the document and pressing ‘send’. You don’t get multiple attempts at submitting your manuscript. I want to make the most of this opportunity.
So I will not press ‘send’ yet. I will print it out again, and I will wait a few days and read it again from the beginning. There are 20000 new words in this draft, so I need to read it again and see if they are meant to stay. Then I will send it to two trusted readers and wait for their feedback. And then I will go through it all again, and by July, I will attach the document to an email and I will send it out there.
I would love to hear from other writers and how they knew that it was finally good enough to call ‘finished’…