Do You Need Your Space?

Or are you a clingy writer who just can’t let go of a manuscript, who can’t bear to send your baby out into the cruel world, no matter how many times you’ve told yourself it’s finished? And how do you even know it’s finished, anyway? As I’ve learned and improved as a writer, that question has become harder and harder to answer—and my manuscripts have become harder and harder to let go. I bet you’re getting a pretty good idea of where I am on the spectrum by now. Submit? A partial? A full? But it’s not ready! You’ll have to chase me down and tear it from my cold, dead hands first! Yep, that’s me. But, in my experience, agents and editors don’t seem to be that desperate.*

*Tip: if an agent does indeed seem that desperate to make your acquaintance and read your work, you probably don’t have an agent. You have a stalker.

Many times, I’ve heard the advice that it’s a good idea to let a manuscript cool off for a few weeks or so in order to read it with fresh eyes before submitting. It’s good advice. Sound advice. I know it. But in practice, I follow the dog-with-a-bone method. So how the hell do I ever get anything out for submission? Ummm…. Yeah. Not so easy.

Fortunately, my life has conspired against my obsessive ways and forced me to see reason. My manuscript (the one I resolved to have polished and out on submission by May 1st) has cooled so much now that it would shatter if I dropped it on the floor. My eyes are fresher than a truckload of Tic-Tacs. Frankly, I’m a little scared. What if I don’t emotionally connect with the characters or story anymore? What if it seems stupid? What if I’m simply sick and tired of the whole thing?

Beginning my final polish filled me with dread, but you know what? Dread aside, these doubts are good—they mean that my story will need to suck me in, to win me over just like it will need to do for an agent, an editor, and ultimately my readers. Honestly, I’m not sure if my doubts are just unfounded insecurities. Maybe the story won’t stand up to scrutiny. But I’m taking that brutal step, and following it through to the end. Whatever I find may make me wince a little (more like a lot), but I know I will have a product that is better for it, and I will finally be able to answer the question of “is it ready?” with a yes.

So, if you’re contemplating wrapping up a project you’ve left too long and it’s giving you the heebie-jeebies, you are not alone. Let me know how it goes and we’ll compare notes!


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