Daily Archives: July 14, 2010

Beach Towels and Manuscript Revision

We swim a lot at our house.  Nonstop actually, which means our beach towels take a beating.  While we have 23 towels, we try really hard to hang used ones up to dry so they can be used again.  And again.  And again.

If we didn’t, we could feasibly use all 23 towels every day between our kids and their friends.  That’s at least four loads of laundry.

And there’s nothing I hate more in this world than washing laundry.  But even if I weren’t sounding so lazy, I could justify not washing every towel after every use because it will wear them out quicker.  I could plead “green”–that I’m simply trying to stretch the life of my towels as long as possible.  Also, DH’s dollars.

After DD’s big, birthday weekend, all 23 towels had been wrapped around various bodies, numerous times.  Between uses, we hung them up.  Much like I set aside my manuscripts.

Over the past year of hanging out on AQ and other writing forums, I’ve noticed the tendency to submit a manuscript immediately after completion.  We finish them, read through them–checking for typos and other grammarly issues–once, maybe twice.  Then we send them off.

I’ve learned a lot about the process in general and writing in particular in the past year.  My best advice to writers is this:

Let your Manuscript Dry

Hang it up between uses.  Don’t run it through the washer after one use and declare it ready to go. 

Your manuscript will wear out.  Your list of agents will fade.  Your patience will become thread-bare, and you will end up on the Wanna-Be Writers’ Memorial Wall of UnFame.

Writing is not a race.  It’s a process.

Manuscripts must read and reread.  They must be checked for plot and character development, not just typos.  And in between edits, they need time to dry.

Only after our manuscripts are the best they can be, should we wash them and dry them in the dryer so they are fresh and clean and ready to share with a new set of guests.

This is when we should submit.  To do so earlier, is unfair to us and the stories we want to tell.

How long does it take before your manuscript goes from complete to submission?  How many edits do you put it through before you declare it polished and ready to go?