Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is It Time?

Thank you to my fantastic crit partner who today blogged about our working together. Heather is amazing and keeps me focused on what's important and our weekly Skype meeting brings the right sort of rhythm to this writer's life. And thank you for waking me from my cocoon.

So... I've been enjoying the safety of just editing. Just the pages and feedback from readers and tweaking and rewriting and adding and deleting. Just working on that one task of making the novel as good as it can be. For me, it's easier to keep my head down and surround myself with words rather than look up into the blogosphere and research agents and do all the things that bring the writing career to the next level.

I love editing, but when to stop?

Last week we went to the tulip fields of Washington state's Skagit Valley. At first I thought the fields and fields of tulips were for the tourists. Very cool, but what an extravagance. Uh, no. All those fields were working farms and this east coaster learned how tulips are harvested. First the bulbs must bloom, then the flowers are cut, but the leaves and stalks and all the green remains so the nutrients can travel back down into the bulbs. A few months later the bulbs are then dug up and shipped across the world. We saw some of the cutting. It's done by hand and not all blooms are ready at the same time; there will be another pass through.

Which made me think of editing. Helping our words bloom, knowing when to cut them and how long to leave them alone. When go to go back with fresh eyes and, yes, when to ship them out.

I think I'm getting ready to ship out Romeo, Romeo, my YA novel of three high school guys. It began as a screenplay several years ago and morphed into a novel. I've been editing a complete first draft for a year and a half. Not that the time itself matters, but now it feels right.

How do we know when we're ready for the next step?


  1. It's good to know it is not time itself that matter. That there is a feeling that goes along with it. Because people around me are starting to question whether it is time to just send it out and I know it is not right yet. Looking forward to the feeling.

    And it is good to see you back. Totally understand the push and pull of this internet thing. It is a whole big thing that takes up space in my head, and then there is a book in there too, and children, and now I have this urge to go buy tulips...

  2. Tina, I hear you. Many people have asked when I'll be done. "You're STILL working on it." I've also been told I have completion issues... Maybe true, but in the case of the novel I've known that it wasn't ready.

    I like to think that we don't cut our novels loose prematurely just as we don't cut kids loose because they've learned to walk.

  3. Now I know where Heather gets it from. Just kidding.

    I can totally see the screenplay roots in RO,RO. It was so funny and full of action. You've revved up my anticipation for another read.

    Welcome back, btw.

  4. That photo of the tulip field is absolutely amazing. I'm so excited for Romeo Romeo. I wish I were a little further along so that I could share the querying process with you! But eventually, you know!

    I'm not sure that I was the one who woke you up--I'm filled with possibilities for Star after our talk--can't wait for the second half!! Good to see you here!!

  5. Jon & Heather - great to see your faces & thanks!

  6. How do we know when we're ready? ...three years of editing, two critiques, five drafts, nearly a decade invested, and a grouchy wife...for me it was pretty much like... "Geez, let's do this already!"

  7. Somehow I find myself jealous of your having a grouchy wife, Elliot. It gives you a distinct advantage. Or at least more motivational kicks in the ass.

  8. How to know when something is ready? Great question. I had three distinct query rounds where I pulled my ms back and did revisions. Each time I sent it out I thought it was ready. I think the initial rejections were the most motivating, and the one's with bits of feedback the most helpful in terms of the rewrites that finally resulted in representation. So, even though, my ms wasn't "ready" on those first two rounds, looking back, I'm glad I queried it when I did.

    Good luck with the querying!!

    And, thanks for the peek inside the Tulip world, very cool!!

  9. Paul - great to hear about looking back positively on the early queries. It's all part of the process and all brings us to where we need to be.

    And I still take breath every time I see the mountain header on your blog... always awesome

  10. It sounds like your ready. Stop cutting the darn tulip and ship it off.

  11. Thanks for the welcome--that's a good question you pose. I don't think we're ever done--I think it's like kindergarten--the teacher takes the drawing away from us. And then we're done! Oh, but the fun part I think is in the editing...Great post.

  12. Samuel - Fantastic that you say the fun part is in the editing. I love editing. It's like the draft is clay & I know the sculpture is in there somewhere.