Monday, March 26, 2012

"Done" and DONE

You sit down in front of your powered up computer staring at a blank Word document. All it takes is moving your fingers around the keyboard and tapping keys in some order, forming socially acceptable words, to be a “writer”, right? Well, what happens when you finally get passed that? When you’ve gotten past the blank page, typed the novel and gotten so far as to type the last period.

There. Done.

Done? Most definitely not done. Not yet. Just as I tell my students, you are not done until you’ve read it, reread it and had others read it. You are not done until you’ve gotten content feedback as well as grammatical feedback and used that feedback to improve it. I use a lot of sports analogies in my classes, which would probably be more effective if I had a better grasp on sports. I know in basketball and football, teams have pre-designed plays they use. These plays work; that's why they are used. However, if they stop working in a game, continuing to employ them would be setting your team and yourself up for failure. Same goes with writing. There are certain things, crutches, that everyone leans on in times of uncertainty. Speakers who are unsure or nervous, will often overuse "um" or "like" as verbal crutches to get from the previous thought to the next. In writing it could be one phrase that a character overuses or a description that goes on and on when really what is being described is so trivial, the reader doesn't need more than a cursory understanding of the setting.

The point? It's hard to find these things when you read through your own writing. Having someone else you trust, who is knowledgeable in what you're constructing, read through and give you advice, guidance and/or feedback...that is just priceless. 

I’ve done all this. I have written the novella. I reveled in the finality of being “done”. I have stared at the “finished” manuscript and stared and stared. I follow enough authors on Twitter, read enough interviews to realize that being “done” and being DONE were two completely different steps. I was also fairly certain there should be some chainsaw action and Elmer’s glue involved in rewriting. With that in mind, I bravely sent my MS off and bit my nails to the quick while respected friends read through in order to give me direction...

…and direction I got. Lots of it. This is me now. Staring at all the ways I could fix, could better my MS. I am beyond grateful to my friends and the insight they provided me. Without that insight, my MS would remain forever in the “done” stage. As of now, it’s in rewrites. I’ve run to Home Depot to purchase my chainsaw and borrowed my daughter’s Elmer’s glue. There might even be a Jason mask lying around here somewhere…for effect.

I’m ready. Or I will be, as soon as I choose a path.

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