One of my favorite things about participating in this blog is the themes. I love having a topic to center my thoughts around, and then, as the month goes on, reading my blogmates’ take on that very same topic. Every blogger has a different perspective. Every blogger brings a new insight. By the time the month ends, I feel as if I have been handed a gift that I was able to hold in my hand and study from a myriad of different angles, learning and admiring each new side.
This month’s topic, release, is going to be especially educational. I’m looking forward to it. Here’s my take for the first installment of my two Tuesday set.
Writers often think of release as “the big day.” The day the book comes out in print or e-format and meets its adoring family. Like any new parent, the writer is a mixture of fear, terror, love, hope, joy, and anticipation. This blog post isn’t about that. It’s about the little releases that precede the big day. I celebrated one of those this Saturday. I sent the developmental edits of my latest book, Death by Doubloons (working title) to my editor on Saturday. In a number of ways, my emotions were very similar to those described above, with a double dose of fear and terror, and hope!
Why? What’s so scary about sending a book off to an editor? Well, plenty. The road to publication is paved with fear and pitfalls. This is how it works for me. First, you take an idea, mix in a handful of conflict, stir well, and watch what your characters do. Then you read the result (a/k/a the hum, what is the nice word for this…first draft). Okay, my first drafts are usually stinkers, but the story is there, and the most of the action. Then I stir the draft again, mix up the chapters and scenes, have a serious heart to heart with my cast and crew, sometimes even the setting needs to be flogged into shape, let the characters fill in the emotional bits (my first drafts are taciturn) and then, read it all over again. After some final tweaking, I send it off to my beta readers, who stir, kneed, correct, and discuss what works and what doesn’t. What comes next is generally known as the third, or fourth, or fifth draft. Although, I confess, by the third edit I usually have it handled, and together.
That’s when the baby toddles off to school. Just as when your children toddle off to day care or kindergarten, mommy is left holding her breath and imagining the worst. In this case, you draft an email, attach the book (no longer a WIP (work in progress), but now a BOOK), and hit send. As soon as you lift your finger from the send button, you reach for the screen with both hands and try to snatch that attachment back because, dang, what could you find with just one more read through. Too late, the ghost of Steve Jobs laughs, and he rips your child from your grasping arms.
After much waiting, worrying, odd glasses of wine, and attempts to stroke the fur off your cats. The inbox dings and your developmental edits have found their way to your in box. The good news, these are development edits, not a rejection. That’s when you feel the first release in the process of writing this particular book. The second release is in the printing of the edits. Not so bad, only three pages. You do a happy dance, tell your husband dinner is on you tonight, go out, and celebrate. You did it, you made the cut. You have not read the comments, yet.
Ok, the next day, flush with your success, you turn the paper you printed the comments on over and read the developmental changes. Reading the changes is immediately followed by panic mode. 1) there are always more than you thought. 2) your next deadline is now in black and white. Immediately, you print the last draft of your book, stare at the two inches of paper all of which you will have to read over at least three more times (once making the first series of changes, once to perfect your changes, and once again after you get the changes back from your beta readers). This causes you to understand and inform your family and friends that you are editing, and do not plan to sleep or eat until you are done, usually a month away. Elation is tempered by reality. This is the part where you become familiar with the outright belly laugh of the karma gods. This part is survivable if you keep three things in mind: your editor knows her stuff and she wants you to succeed, you knew you had to kill these darlings, but you weren’t ready to do it until forced, and you will meet your deadline.
In making these changes you fall in love with your story all over again. The reason for the edits become clear and when you do that final read through before you draft the email, attach the manuscript and push send, you understand how much better a book you have now than you did thirty days before. Pushing that send icon now is a huge RELEASE. Sure, the publisher may not like your changes or publish your book, but…it’s your baby, and it’s as ready as you can make it to meet the world on its own terms. The satisfaction of this stage of release is the best. Your baby is going off to college. There may still be pitfalls ahead, but you’re sure both you, and the book, will survive them.
Happy release day, Death by Doubloons. Make your mamma proud. No pressure.
What about you? Do you feel this way in preparing for a new event?
Kait Carson lives and writes in central Florida. You can reach her at facebook.com/kait.carson.1 or on twitter at @kaitcarson.