Last Monday evening, I finished writing and then printed my completed first draft of my next novel. (To all of my readers that just yelled, "YEAH!", thank you for your excitement. I love you all!) It was a huge accomplishment, and I poured myself a large glass of wine as the pages fell out of the printer. But as much as I enjoyed celebrating that important milestone in process of composing a book, I also knew that I still had a lot of work ahead of me.
Now is the time to sit down and read that story from front to back, but the most important element of that is to look at it with the eyes of a new reader. As I've been working on various parts of the story, my mind has been immersed in those moments, but I can't forget that my readers will have to take that journey on their own. I need to be able to pretend I don't know where the plot will take me when I read page one, and to do that, I have to get that story out of my brain.
That's where the blessing of holiday chaos comes in. On that Monday evening, I put the pages in a folder, sat that folder on the shelf in my living room, and haven't touched it. Since then, I've been volunteering at the church, cleaning my house, baking cookies, taking care of my kids, stuffing Christmas cards, and pretty much doing anything else I could to keep incredibly busy. Thankfully, there are lots of things on my to do list.
This week coming up, I plan to sit and read a good book, one that will hopefully be a little new for me. Yes, in the back of my mind I will know how it all goes down, and I will stop to take a lot notes on each and every page. But I firmly believe that the best thing I could have done to prepare for this first big edit is to walk away for a while. My eyes are ready for a wonderful story.
Let's just hope I wrote one.
To my fellow writers, don't forget to take a moment to breathe before you edit. Without doing so, your eyes will gloss over the same spelling mistakes over and over again, or you'll be unable to notice that you inserted the wrong characters name in the middle of a converstation. Write, breathe, then edit. Each of those steps are important to the process.
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