I recently finished the third draft of my current WIP, and maybe you can identify with the very academic and scholarly feeling of WHOOOHOOO that coursed through my body.
Thinking I was sooo close to The End (I envisioned 4th Draft as being as simple as addressing a few pages of additional notes chapter-by-chapter), you can imagine how annoying it was to find that every time I went to open the novel’s folder, I stalled—ended up reading blogs, posting at forums, playing with my dogs . . . I even found myself doing dishes and catching up on laundry (the true sign of how low I stooped). At first I thought it was just my ever-present, all-too-common love of work avoidance. Then I read Alexandra Sokoloff’s recent Murderati post, “On Genre, Sort of,” followed her link to a post on her personal blog, “Top Ten Things I Know About Editing,” and had a huge Aha! moment.
The lightning-strike comment regarded doing what Alexandra calls a “genre pass.” I’ve never written according to genre before (but I should have. Reading her post made me realize why my first novel, a book I still believe in, got full-reads and good comments from agents, but no offers for representation. It’s women’s fiction, and I should’ve taken comments from literary markets, “It’s too commercial,” and from more mainstream markets, “It’s too literary” and jumped off the fence, picked a group of target readers and edited with them in mind. In fact, I still might do just that—but I digress . . .). The story I’m working on now is a mystery/suspense with supernatural elements. Writing-wise, I feel like I’ve discovered my home. Editing-wise, I now realize that I wasn’t putting off my “last” add-ins, because I have a penchant for household chores. My subconscious writer knew something (as usual) that my usually perceptive inner editor didn’t: The kind of cool/creepy things my brain has been throwing my way lately aren’t for my next book (well, some of them are), they’re to intensify this one.
A small part of me is disappointed (I so wanted to hand over my story with a big “Ta-da—c’est fini!” to my first readers), but the largest part is relieved and excited. I know what I need to do to feel right about calling this book “finished” and sharing it—and that really demands a big WHOOOHOO. Maybe even two.