Friday, April 13, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

You can also play with cover ideas!
By Kim

A couple of weeks ago I edited the complete manuscript for The Oak Lovers and sent it to my first round of critique partners and Beta readers. Fellow What Women Write contributor, Joan Mora, advised patience.

“Don’t be too surprised, or too frustrated, if your Beta readers don’t read as fast as you’d like them to,” she said. Joan’s recently been there, done that, and she knows of what she speaks.

Of course, I thought. Just because people have been telling me for years that they can’t wait to read my book doesn’t mean they will open the document the moment it hits their inbox. Some of them have edits of their own to do or deadlines looming. Many have jobs, kids, or both. One just had a tornado hit her house. Really. Others may be overwhelmed by having a four-hundred page document that they have not only agreed to read, but to comment on. What if they don’t like it? What if something doesn’t work? How can they break it to me? (Hint: Just tell me.)

All writers encounter this no-man’s land between composition and submission, so I thought it may be helpful to offer some suggestions for how to pass the time.

Research agents and compose your query. A no-brainer.

Google yourself. Has your blog been neglected? Do you have a website? If not, do you need one? If so, does it need a facelift? Mine did! (Check out my handiwork here.)

Purge office of clutter. Obviously, I’m not about to throw out family documents, but I no longer need files on secondary characters or books on Ojibwa ceremonies. Vintage postcards of settings used in The Oak Lovers can be stowed away like old love letters. This is a break up of sorts. If old voices linger in my mind, it will be harder to hear any new ones.

Brainstorm new projects. I have a few ideas.

Cook. This tip may work better in other homes. In mine it's a futile exercise. I have yet to find a single thing that all members of my family enjoy.

Clean. Dust those high shelves. Organize those cabinets. Dare to face your child’s closet.

Tackle unfinished house projects. Paint a room. Hang new blinds. Install new flooring. Garden.

Read. I don’t know about you, but my to-be-read pile has became a bookshelf, and it's overflowing!

Have a glass of wine. Or two. You’ve earned it.

What you should not do: Open your manuscript. You will think every word you've written is crap. Trust me on this.


  1. Love this comment: "If old voices linger in my mind, it will be harder to hear any new ones." I've never really thought about it in those terms, but it's so true. I suppose I do the same. Clear away those research materials, take down the inspiring pictures, clear my desk for the next story!

  2. This will be a tough "break-up" for me and will probably have to be done in stages. It can never be complete, actually, since I will always be surrounded by my great-grandfather's paintings, sketches and prints. I can clear out those files, though...

    Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!


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