If you’ll recall, I set myself a deadline earlier this month. The idea was to push through this final polishing round of edits on Salvaged and then get cracking on agent queries by the end of August. Well, today is September 1, and I have not yet finished.
I’m not discouraged by this.
First of all, the work that I’ve put into the novel has made it so much better. I read a book – called The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke earlier this month, and the book helped me realize what I still disliked about my novel’s opening sequence. I had almost all of the elements, my outline and flow followed most of the things in the book, except one thing. I never established my protagonist’s normal. I also didn’t give her enough of a physical description early on. So, armed with the sound advice in this book, I rewrote the first few chapters (again). And I’m even more in love with this book than I was before.
The problem? I have to continuity-edit all of the stuff I’d already edited, so I’m re-polishing polished silver. Then, when I catch up with myself, most of act three is going to require a lot of rewriting. I’ve changed the timbre of the antagonist, I’ve tightened the tension. The climax needs to be, well, more climactic. I don’t want the novel to suffer because I’m impatient to be done with it and move on to the next phase.
Another lesson-learned from this process of setting myself a deadline is that working full-time and then coming home to edit/write full time is a sure-fire way to burn myself completely out. I haven’t had time for friends or family. I haven’t wanted to deal with anything. This obsessive all-day, all-night working is life-draining. About two weeks ago I was longing for an artist’s sabbatical. Just stick me at a retreat and let me write for a few days uninterrupted by silly things like meals and work and potty breaks. Now, I pretty much just want to lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling and hope the last 10 chapters will edit and rewrite themselves.
I’ve done my agenty homework. I know where I want to query my book. I just want to be sure it’s ready before I do that. It’s not ready.
So, I have ten chapters left. I don’t want to stay burned out, so I need to slow down the pace. I did 20 chapters (and 10 of those twice) in the month of August. I think I can knock out the rest of the book in September. I started this whole journey last October when I submitted the MS to Harper Voyager. It makes sense for it to come around to October again. Personal deadlines slip, and I’m okay with that. What’s important is that we know how and why, and that we can revise the plan when the time comes.