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So you've finished a manuscript, now what?

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

As I sit here in the aftermath of what has been a four-year labor of love, I’m at a complete loss with myself. My manuscript has finally reached an editor. After years of effort, thousands of words, and hundreds of deletions-- it is completed.

Writing often feels like you’re hurtling towards these different levels or points, just to hit a dead stop once you get there. For so long, finishing my manuscript was that next step. I couldn’t go further without it. The pressure built and the story closed in around me until it was finally completed in July 2020. It was such a grueling, thrilling, and exhausting experience, but 400 pages later and my goal was met.

And yet…

It doesn’t feel “done”

What people say about letting your manuscript rest is critical. Like any good piece of meat after being carefully prepared, wonderfully seasoned, and cooked golden, you need to give the thing some time to settle. It's been 6 months since I completed the manuscript and the first time I went back into it--and there were many mistakes! I was so enveloped in my story that things got muddled, or often repeated. It’s a natural tendency for writers, as we need to keep track of the story and those repeated lines are often us remembering or forgetting what was written. Don't get me wrong, I love my manuscript, and I love it even more now that I've gone back to it a few times.

I like to think I do things well the first time, but I think the truer statement would be that I give my best effort, which can be OK and if I’m lucky, good. Craft needs time and practice. As a life-long painter this is a lesson I know well.

I can’t celebrate the manuscript yet. I don’t have it in me to do so. Like I said, there is always a next step in the process, and I feel like the book is the final step we are all striving for but there is a lot stuff that happens between stages.

I am self-publishing, so while editing occurs, things like cover design, website completion, finding beta readers, and researching marketing strategies are all in the mix. It times out well with other projects I have to direct my focus elsewhere. I would advise others who are self-publishing to not over burden themselves with the entire “to-do” list—which is extensive. One step at a time. One word at a time.

I do believe one should write what they love. More importantly, write for yourself. Like paint, you can choose your words like colors and design them into images, emotions, and stories. There are so many colors before me now, almost too many to choose as I brainstorm my next manuscript.

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