Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Saying Good-Bye to My Baby

Writing an entire book is like running a marathon (not that I ever have or will run one) or finding out you're about to have a baby, where you start off fast and happy, hit a wall of fear, curse the gods for ever giving you the thought of pursuing this madness, but keep going until the end with renewed vigor, or as I like to think of it, "I made it this bloody far, I will not let anything stop me. I'll show them!" So you continue on until you get to write those two wonderful words, "The End," and make yourself a large drink. Your baby is here...now comes the hard part.

After the first draft coomes the first and second edits before you give it to your beta testers, who take their sweet time reading and editing. Then you take their suggestions, edit again, send it to your wonderful agent for her to edit, make the corrections she suggests, edit again, and finally it's ready to shop around. And if the publishing gods deign her worthy the publisher will have you edit it at least twice more. So "The End" is simply the beginning of a grueling process, almost like raising a child, where you will curse your characters for ever entering your imagination or life in the first place at least once or twice. But you love her regardless, and you solider on to do your best to help her grow.

There is so much else that goes into getting the book from the first draft to the last as I pointed out. But yesterday I started the final, final, final edit of "Mind Over Monsters." She has gone through so many changes since I started it seven(!) years ago I barely recognize her. The beginning chapter I started with is completely gone, characters names have changed, and I don't know how many paragraphs have been shortened or expanded. She (like all cars manuscripts are female) has grown from a seed in my mind to an infant as I did the first draft. All her parts were there, her personality, but she needed shaping to become a productive member of book society.

So through the years I did my best to trim her fat, improve her vocabulary, scream at her when she wouldn't listen to me, and make her the best she could be. (Those teenage years...shudder. I almost gave up on her when I was trying to sell her, but we soldiered through). Now it's as if she is about to graduate college. She's standing on her own two feet, but still needs her Mommy for a few last bits of advice. That's what I'm doing now with the final edit. Never again will I be able to change words, add to characters, plug in narrative holes, etc. She will forever be out in the world as is for other people to judge, enjoy, or just plain hate. She is her own entity now. I just hope my baby will become President instead of a bum. Regardless, I have to let go. I've done all I can to get her to stand on her two feet, and I am proud of her...though I never want to see her again.

Now onto her siblings.

10 comments:

Lois Winston said...

Jennifer, when I was going through labor with my first son, I remember thinking how it was the most incredibly painful experience I'd ever had to go through and no way was I ever doing it again. When I was going through labor with my second son, I suddenly remembered that I'd sworn never to go through such hell again, but there I was, having totally forgotten my vow of three years earlier. It's a good thing nature makes us forget. The same is true for certain stages of giving birth to a book. We remember the good parts and forget the painful ones until we're submerged in them once again.

May your baby take wing!

jfeltonx7 said...

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Jessie Chandler said...

Jennifer, awesome post! And if I had kids, I imagine it would be just about the same horror and love all wrapped into one. And I think your cover kicks butt!!!! It's very cool. Congrats on finishing the FINAL edit. Then yup, onto the siblings you go :-)

Kathleen Ernst said...

Congratulations on seeing this labor through! When you hold your book in your hands, it will all be worth it!

G.M. Malliet said...

Kathleen is right. Holding that newborn book is such a "wow" feeling.

Darrell James said...

Jeenifer- "You always remember your first." Congratulations on finishing your edits. Now on to the next one.

Beth Groundwater said...

Nice analogy, Jennifer, between rearing a manuscript and rearing a child!

Robin Allen said...

I know just how you feel, Jennifer, but after I moved on to my second, I hardly thought about the first. Sometimes I have to take a moment to remember what it looks like.

Keith Raffel said...

Here's one to your baby and one more for the road.

Deborah Sharp said...

Now, who could hate a brand new baby??? Hope ''Mind over Monsters'' is a big hit!