Friday, June 17, 2011

Breaking up with your Manuscript

Have I mentioned I wrote a book? Yeah, I'm sure I did. I celebrated with a fantastic martini and this crazy appetizer called Reuben Eggrolls. They are what you think, and they were delicious.

So, now what? I'm taking a break. That's right, a nice, long, well-deserved break.

Analogy time: The time after you finish a manuscript is like dating.

At first, you're in the "honeymoon phase" where everything is shiny and gorgeous and you love each other and even your crap doesn't stink. You think this relationship will go the distance. This is a terrible time to edit. You may not think every line is gold, but there are some whoppers in there that are definitely being overlooked.

We move on to the comfortable phase, where there are some little things that are wrong. You smile, correct them, and giggle at how adorable it is. You don't really see anything too terrible with what they've done. It's going well. Still not a good time to edit.

Then we move on to the annoyed phase. This is the phase where every little thing is starting to tick you off. Your manuscript is leaving hair products strewn on the counter or keeps "forgetting" to put away the clean dishes. You really just want to kick the crap out of it. This is a better time to edit. You can see the flaws, and see how it's not going to go the distance.

Then we have the inevitable break-up. It's a glorious day when you finally work up the nerve to talk to your manuscript, let it know that you're sorry but it's just not going to work. There is a freedom there, like a weight has finally been lifted off your shoulders. Here is the point where you hate everything about your manuscript, and you get to make it better. You get to shape it into the perfect date, with all that witty dialog and huge, uh, descriptions? You are now in the perfect mindset to rip everything apart and sew it back together so it's infinitesimally better.

The exciting part about writing is that you can do this with your writing without all that awkward being around your manuscript. You go through all these steps while cheating on it with other fun activities - like working out or remembering to actually cook dinner. It's important to take breaks when it comes to writing. It's a way to separate yourself from your writing. Because we know the pitfalls of getting married during the honeymoon stage and having things fall apart.

No shotgun weddings, please.

The funny thing for me is, I hadn't done anything nuts like try to write a novel in a month, so I wasn't frazzled, but I had been pushing myself hard and spending a lot of time on writing. Now, because I can't be spending that time on my manuscript, I have no idea what to do now. What did I do before I hunkered down and really got to work?

So do you guys do this as well? Or are you fantastic and know what you need to do right after you stop writing. Do you start to work on a different project while you wait on this one? I want to hear it!