“Off It Goes!”

Caroline Stutson thumbnail photo

 

 

By Caroline Stutson

Yes, I did it.
I am through.
There is nothing
left to do.
 
 
Every word,
succinctly mine,
placed precisely
line by line.
 
Oh, the fame,
I cannot wait,
my best work!
I celebrate.
 
Off it goes!
Not one mistake,
my masterpiece
until…
 
I wake.

Some years ago, two good writing friends, Anna-Maria Crum and Hilary Bell, also known as the “Plot Docs,” staged a gentle intervention for me after I’d confessed my horrid habit of sending new work out too soon, something I couldn’t seem to stop doing. Even now, I still shudder at all pitiful picture books I’ve mailed to editors because I believed I’d made those manuscripts the best I could.

Anna-Maria and Hilary had a quite a few helpful suggestions but the four of us knew I’d find a way to get my writing out there WAY TOO FAST no matter what!

I’d like to say I’m cured now but I’m not. I do have a better understanding about why I submit too quickly and have put a few rules in place to slow things down.

A just “finished” piece of writing is like falling in love with someone. No one can talk you out of it. No one can cure you. You know the relationship is perfect, but both  situations need time and space if we want to be objective.

I’ve learned, at least, to NEVER EVER send out work on the same day I considered it “finished.” No one wants to be awakened in the middle of the night with a wonderful new idea for a picture book that is already headed halfway to New York.

I’ve also had some success switching genres when I’ve “completed” something. If I’m writing poetry, I switch to chapter books and vice versa to create a greater distance from my first work.

Having a trusted “first reader” helps too, probably no one in your family though.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT! Chose a first reader who will give you positive feedback, someone who will answer your questions about the manuscript. When you are madly in  love with your writing, you aren’t ready for critical suggestions. I’m certainly not.

And… If the urge to send becomes too powerful, try rewarding yourself for waiting with a special treat even if it adds a couple of pounds.

We writers are worth it, don’t you think?

So there’s my two cents. My blog is done. I’m ready to hit send.

Or maybe not…

3 Comments

  1. Yes! I have been guilty of the exact same thing. And like you I also cringe when I think of those early stories I sent out way too soon. Then again, at least you send your work out instead of spending years and years rewriting one story.

    Reply
  2. Oh, I can just see a picture book for (chronological) grownups with that initial text!

    I know that problem all too well. Rationally I know that Caroline’s absolutely correct about not submitting the same day you think it’s finished. It’s so tempting, though, especially if you know just where to send it!

    At least back the The Oldt Days the trip to the Post Office gave time for second thoughts. Too bad there’s no “cancel” button on emails.

    Reply
  3. Wow, does this ever resonate! When something feels finished, I want it off my desk and out of my life for a bit…and I always regret it when I submit too soon. It’s even easier to do with email submissions, don’t you think?

    Reply

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