I’m sitting at my desk, reading through my manuscript one “last” time (you know, before the next “last” time) before sending it back to my critique partners before (hopefully) prepping it for query. And I’m thinking to myself, “I really like this part.” Reading through my story, making only minimal changes, sometimes in awe of a paragraph I can’t believe was actually written by me. Surely this is the part of the writing process that brings me the most joy!
Except, every part brings me the most joy, all for different reasons.
THE IDEA. A new idea bursts into my head like a tiny explosion, or slowly emerges like a new seedling poking out of the dirt. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing, it’s exciting! Something new that I can nurture until I can’t help but write it down, this is a reminder that while they won’t all be good, I’ll never actually run out of ideas for stories.
FIRST DRAFT. This is fraught with so much uncertainty — will I even finish this? — but there are the moments when I write so much that my hand cramps out before the words stop coming, where I’m exhausted even though I haven’t moved in an hour, this huge rush and excitement and I feel like I’m doing something I’m meant to be doing forever.
SECOND DRAFT. Welp, now I have this huge mess to fix, full of inconsistencies and characters I forgot about then bring suddenly back at the end. But I see glimmers of story, things that I can mold and shape and maybe turn into something worth reading.
EVERY OTHER DRAFT. When I can figure out how to fix and add all these story twists, I’m just as excited as I was when I first sat down to write. Maybe I’ve given myself enough distance that I can see what needs to be sliced out, and while I have a bad feeling dumping words in my trash folder on Scrivener (I would never permanently delete this stuff, I’m not crazy) it’s satisfying to know I’m coming in with eyes clear enough to see what needs to go.
CRITIQUES. This is one of the most painful things. I’ve cringed, bashed my head against the desk, worn a hole in the floor pacing around. I’ve been presented with new puzzles to solve — but when I see a solution, when I write it out and realize that yes, yes, YES this is going to work, once again the feeling strikes me — this is something awesome I’m meant to do.
FINAL EDIT. I’m polishing the story, dotting I’s, fixing minor word choice and inconsistencies, so I know I’m sending something off as perfect as I’m capable of making it.
QUERYING. Yeah… every part doesn’t have to be my favorite. But, at least there’s some joy in those handful of emails where the agent asks to see the rest… We can just hope that, someday, that adds up to something.
What do you like about the stages of writing? Where are you in your manuscript right now?