The Lull

Well, folks, I’m down.

I just finished a third draft of my Hemingway book, it’s off to the critiquers, and I feel lost, nervous, frantic, unsettled, unsure…you get the picture. Giving a ripe, young manuscript away is a bit like sending off your child to Kindergarten.  You’ve done as much as you can to prepare her, but it’s out of your hands until she gets home.  (I’m being a little dramatic and breaking my rule of comparing writing to any process involving birthing or children, but it’s that kind of day.)

I’m also depressed because now that I’ve completed the manuscript I can no longer avoid the tasks I’ve been putting off like the synopsis, query letter, bibliography, and permissions. Continuing with the child metaphor, I’d suggest that these processes compare to taking your child to the dentist, changing dirty diapers, and doing laundry.

But you know what–you’ve got to take the good with the bad.  Life can’t be all drafts and research (or playgrounds and picnics, if you prefer.) The little, unpleasant duties contribute to the overall health of the manuscript the way that doctor visits and clean diapers are good for children.  I know that condensing an 80,000 word novel into a one page synopsis, and further, into a two paragraph pitch for a query letter, will help me identify plot problems, zero in on the major themes, and help me strengthen the next draft.  Also, like most unpleasant tasks, getting motivated to start is worse than actually becoming immersed in the project. (Okay, the dirty diaper comparison isn’t going to hold up there.)

So, I’ve got my coffee, I’ve turned on Pandora, I’ve turned off Twitter, and I’m ready to dig into my synopsis.  I’m feeling better already.

What do you do to motivate yourself for the unpleasant side of your job? What gets you through?  I’d love your tips and tricks.


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