Monday, February 4, 2013

Handle With Care



Like many of us, I have put my work out there when it is too new for feedback. The resulting damage taught me that early drafts are like newborns: they need coddling. Eventually, as they grow up, they can withstand more challenges. In fact, a manuscript won't thrive without challenge. Until it gets to a certain robust point, though, it needs shelter.

How do we know when a manuscript is ready to leave the nest? I haven't sorted this out. I also don't how to protect that baby manuscript from the worst critic of all, either: how do I shelter me ... from me?

15 comments:

  1. Stephanie, thank you for reading my essay and commenting. I couldn't find a place to follow your site so I started a blogroll on mine. You are its first listing and that seems to work fine. I like your blog very much.

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    1. Hey Geo: thank you! Your amoeba essay was fantastic: like a New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs piece. I thought I added a "subscribe to" gadget at the top of my blog -- above the lemmings cartoon on the right. Does it not work?

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    2. Yikes! I didn't even see it. I was looking for all the little square head-things. I'll get the hang of this in another few years.

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    3. Steph, is there any chance you can add the square heads?

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    4. Help me with the square heads thing, people. What is that gadget called? I tried adding a "follow by email" gadget at the bottom but it doesn't look like y'alls. (Yes, I said "y'alls." Because English needs a second person plural, dammit!)

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    5. Go into 'Layout,' 'Add a Gadget' and choose 'Followers.' I think. I'm typing this comment not signed in and will sign in once I press publish. I'll double check and make sure.

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    6. Okay, once you're on the list of possible gadgets, it looks like you have to click the 'more gadgets' tab to the left and the square-head option is at the top.

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  2. Great question. How DO we know when our baby is "done" and ready to go out into the world? How do we know when it's time to stop reading and re-reading, editing and re-editing and nit-picking at every word on every page of our work? When it is shiny enough? When do we trust ourselves enough?

    Personally, I've decided my WIP is as shiny as I can make it. But I'm not gonna embark on yet another round of querying. Gonna self-pub this year. (gulp) I think.

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    1. That's great, Susan! I don't know if you listen to NPR but they've had a whole series on self-publishing lately. I really seems the wave of the future. Or even the wave of the present. I wish you the best of luck!

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  3. Leggo my ego.

    (That's what we say to ourselves.)

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  4. And yet, I have friends who shall remain nameless (ahem...Suze...) who encourage me to put stuff out there before it's truly ready for public consumption...

    In truth, I am of two minds. As I have told our unnamed friend, I write better when I know someone is going to read the material. Also, without a bit of goading, I might never take the chance at all. On the other hand, it does feel a bit like setting my ego up for a fall. It can't possibly be more humbling than teaching middle school, though, right?

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    1. Steph read Madame Thunderbolt when my ego was dragging on the ground from massive lack of interest from over 100 agents and she pressed sparkly wings to my sad back, again. Ego is a funny, fragile little fella that hurts and requires the love of friends during more than just the incubating stage.

      I live and die by the idea that criticism is only half-important -- to goad us toward excellence. Standing shoulder to shoulder, though -- to keep us moving, alive, in the game -- the value of this cannot be underestimated. We need an audience of friends. We need our cheerleaders. :)

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    2. Ooh, I am so happy I did sparkly wings!

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  5. I added the "followers" gadget, y'all. Thanks, Suze. You helped! :)

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