Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Polish ' til it Shines!

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. ~ Confucius, Analects

They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds. ~ Wilt Chamberlain


I think I finally have my contest entry ready to submit. The scariest thing about getting some feedback and then polishing it was this: it's a much stronger piece than it was, and it occurred to me that I should really pay the same close attention to THE ENTIRE BOOK.

Ack!

I wonder if editors and agents see the contest affliction a lot. They read the synopsis and query -- great! Request the first 50 pages or three chapters or whatever -- fantastic!! They request the full manuscript -- and it fizzles.

How many folks work and work and polish and edit and go back and do it again on their first few chapters, but don't have the energy to sustain that pace for all 300 pages?

I can understand that. I only did twenty-five (with a little help from my friends... la...la...la) and it took several days and much agonizing.

I wonder, too, as you grow as a writer -- do you get better at editing as you go? Do you become aware of your shortcomings ("that" or passive voice or run-on sentences? Yes, those are some of mine) and just pluck them out on your first run-through?

If not, then how do so many people write so well, yet so prolifically?

It's both discouraging and energizing. I'm ready to make this novel perfect. I'm so jazzed about my ending (talk to me after the contest is done... we'll see if I feel the same...LOL) that I want the entire book to be that good.

So, I guess I'm off to work on the next twenty-five pages. I wonder, if I divide the total number of pages by twenty-five and multiply the days it takes to polish each block, how long that would be? Who said you didn't need math in real life?

Have a great day! I know I will, because I get to go to Staples! I LOVE the office supply store. Seriously, I would rather shop for office supplies than clothes. I love all the little pens and pads of paper and neat little gadgets. Even though I'm only going for printer ink, I'd be willing to bet I'll walk out with something else. I have to scour the aisles, look at everything.

It's a disease. I can't wait. Why don't they open at 5 a.m.? Huh?

4 comments:

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

It is indeed a disease, Maria! And, geesh, I hope our editing and writing improves as we go! Else I'll never make a decent hourly profit!!

Great questions, all! Good luck on the contest.

Tori Lennox said...

I love shopping for office supplies, too!!! So many wonderful things you can find in the store!

htarfl - harry took angie's red flannel lingerie

anno said...

Office supply stores, art supply stores, yarn shops, and fabric stores -- if I think I can make something from it, or if I'm convinced that something will help me be better organized, I love shopping for it. Using it, however, is a different matter. You're right, it is a disease!

Allie Boniface said...

Oh, I would guess that at least 50% of contest entries are polished first drafts without a complete ms. behind them. A while back, there was one who was always listed as among the top 3 in various contests in the RWR. Know what? I always looked for that book to be published, figuring if it was good enough to win contest after contest, it would definitely appear in print someday. I still haven't seen it. In all honesty, that's part of why I stopped entering contests. I can't afford to spend all my time on the first 3 chapters, when 50k+ words are waiting to be written...