Put Your Manuscript in a Drawer
And I did leave the house. I swear. I left to teach. To walk around the block. To hear chamber music.
And I always came back to the manuscript…and most often, gleefully.
So when I got home and finally put the thing into a drawer, well…I think I might have heard my manuscript scream.
But I had to do it. The love affair has to cool off. Or, as friend and author B.A. Goodjohn told me: “Of course you’re in love with the novel. That’s fine. But you have to wait until you’re not infatuated anymore. Wait until you’re not in love, but just loving it.” In other words, if I try to revise when I’m still in love with the work, I’ll only be patting around the edges and not really digging into the guts of the story. But if I wait until I love it like another person–someone I would be honest with because I cared, someone I would point out spinach to when it gets caught between their teeth–well, that’s a whole other story.
Which is exactly the point–to wait long enough until I can revise my way to a whole other story. It will be the story it’s been trying to be all along, of course, but I’m still figuring that out. The only way to speed this process up is to, ironically, slow down.
So here it is ladies and gents, my pledge to keep my hands off the novel for at least one month, possibly two. I should probably wait even longer than that, but I don’t think that’s possible for me. I don’t want it all to end. I can still hear it screaming. But if my older, wiser, more published friends have been telling me the truth all these years, then I have to do this.
Into the drawer it goes…