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06/12/2008: "#120: The Manuscript, One Year On"

Music: Booker T. & the MGs
Mood: my how time passes

It was a year ago tonight that I finished the first draft of my manuscript. On the accasion of this first anniversary, I thought I would share with you the state of the book and its publishing. Last year, I said that "now all I have to do is edit it and send it out, which seems a lot less daunting somehow." It turns out I was a little off the mark.

After I finished the manuscript, I took the summer off. I went camping and did fun stuff. Late in the summer, I began to reread it and started editing mainly for grammar. I completed the first edit in September. I took a step away again and started to read up on how exactly one gets a book published. In December, I began a major edit that took three months. When this was finished, I gave a copy to a friend of mine who is a copy editor. She read it in March and gave me a lot of interesting notes.

In March, I went to my first sci-fi writer's convention, met a great bunch of fellow writers who live in the area, and we started a writer's group. Friday is our third meeting and so far I have produced two short stories to be critiqued by the group.

So, you may ask, where does that leave the manuscript? I have been "in the middle of" an edit based on the notes my friend gave me since then. In May, I resolved to finish this edit, which I am deeming "the final edit." All the editing I have done in the last year has, IMHO, made the book an even more cracking read than it was in the first draft. All that remains is to finish this last draft and send it out.

On the one hand, I am a little disappointed with myself for not getting the manuscript edited quicker and sending it out before now. On the other, even though the progress has not been as fast as I wanted, I haven't given up, and in fact, I have learned a lot about what it is like to be a writer, namely that it takes a lot of time and discipline. The actual writing was so much fun that I realized that it was what I want to be doing with my life. I also realize that I am looking back on the writing process through some rose-colored glasses- it was pretty stressful in its own way. I am also discounting all the editing work that I have done. Editing is, to put it mildly, wicked important to the overall readability of the book. The fact that I have put so much time into making it better has become, over the course of writing this, a lot more comforting. Proper editing takes more time than I imagined. I really had this fantasy after I just finished of just doing a quick spell-check and sending it out. I know when I send it out that the manuscript will be the best thing I have written up to that moment.

So what does the future hold for the manuscript? First thing I have to do is finish this edit. Second thing I have to do is to select an editor to send it to (I have a list of people who sound like they will be receptive to reading this kind of a manuscript). Third thing I have to do is to prepare a query. A query usually involves a letter to the editor asking if they are interested in reading my manuscript accompanied by a synopsis of the novel or the whole thing, depending on individual tastes. I can only send one at a time and wait for the editor's response, as sending out more than one query at a time for the same thing is unprofessional. I also have two short stories which I can send out to magazines at the same time.

How long is this all going to take? As I have learned, setting a goal to finish a huge task "by the end of the month" just stresses you out. Setting a goal to finish a huge task a few months from now is another story. I think that completing the final edit and sending out the first query for the manuscript in addition to sending out queries for the two short stories sounds by Labor Day sounds totally doable. I just need to sit down and figure out what I need to do by when and have the discipline to get it done. You heard it here first, folks!

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