Monday, July 19, 2010

The Challenge of Swallowing Your Pride (GIVEAWAY CONTEST)

This is the last post in my "Challenge" series, and post-Blogfest of Death, so I'm looking for some new followers and subbers to stop on by and enter into this giveaway contest. It's as easy as leaving a comment, but I NEED A MINIMUM OF THREE COMMENTS to make this work, so spread the word! Any who comment on this post will be entered for the drawing, which will be determined by You also have a choice of which prize you would like to receive. Please leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you for your physical address.

Prize bucket choices are:

The Lost Years of Merlin, by T.A. Barron (2007 re-print edition)
Creating Short Fiction, by Damon Knight
On Writing, by Stephen King
Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass
Revision and Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell

So, we all know at some point when our manuscripts are complete. Other writers may have more difficulty determining this and continue to revisit their writing to polish and tighten. This is all well and proper in the discipline, but at some point, you must also swallow your pride of trying to make the manuscript better. Continuously polishing creates un-needed tension. A writer does not need this. But, wait, we've all heard that a first manuscript must impress. How else are you supposed to breakout if your manuscript is littered with grammar issues, those dirty adverbs and the infamous overuse of semicolons and ellipses?

More than one agent has blogged in the past that having the perfect manuscript in this format isn't always necessary. Yes, they will begin to lose it if the writing is blatantly ignoring basic rules, but a stray misspelled word and misplaced modifier won't kill you. They care about the quality of writing and the story you can tell. In the end, that is all that matters when it comes to making a sale to a publisher.

Beta readers and critique groups are wonderful, but not even they can catch everything. You will ask yourself, "I hope they caught everything," when it is not their place to do it, and ultimately, it is not even yours. This may go against everything you were told in school or how-to-write slush books (which by the way are fantastic), but do not drown in the mess of always polishing. I will admit I have done this, but I am finding my way through those dark waters.

The question whose answer being judged for the contest is this: How do you best swallow your pride in your writing? How do you know you are done and what method do you use to say, "I will not go back. It is the best it can be."

Remember, there is no best answer. All comments are subject to the random generator.

Thanks and enjoy!



  1. Woot free books! I will post this and linky from my blog today. You know my email.

    As for your question, I know something is done when I feel it. I have no other way to describe it. Sort of like cooking. The turkey is done when it tastes good.

  2. I know my manuscript is done when it doesn't come back with any comments at all from my editor or beta reader. It also helps to just send off a manuscript if I've pressed for a deadline.

  3. How do you best swallow your pride in your writing? How do you know you are done and what method do you use to say, "I will not go back. It is the best it can be."

    That's two questions. As to the first, don't submit anything you can't stand to see rejected for publication. Secondly, I know that it's done when the final cheque from my publisher clears the bank.

    I'm MadJackRacham at gmail dot com.

  4. How do I best swallow my pride:

    By taking peoples feedback, finding a conscientious and making a change they’ve suggested and actually finding I like their version better than my own.

    As far as walking away and never touching it again – we’ll let’s just say I’ll be the published author sitting in bed with my new hardback book in one hand and a red pen in the other finding all the shit I missed before it went to print.

    And you already have my email.

  5. I just started my first manuscript so I have no idea when I will know when it will be done. I have been reading the blogs and comments and they are all very helpful. Thank you everyone.

  6. This comment is posted courtesy of Claire Legrand, as she was having difficulties posting herself:

    Well, I only have one complete manuscript under my belt, so I'm still figuring out how to do all this, but I'm finding that the best way to swallow my pride, put my first manuscript aside, and move on to other things is just that -- move on to to other things.

    By working on other projects, I hone my craft and begin to look at writing not just as this haphazard, impossible fairy tale of a task, but something with method, something with the distinct possibility of accomplishment.

    Continuing to work also takes away fears and insecurities, which in turn helps me swallow my pride and view my work through a more objective lens.

    I realized quite recently that I was officially "done" with this first manuscript when I caught myself opening it randomly throughout the week, reading sections over and over, and making nitpicky changes that weren't really necessary, just to feel like I was *doing* something. I abruptly closed the document and promised myself I'd focus on my next project starting right then.

    There comes a point when it feels like you're sitting at a desk, with all the desired components on it -- your laptop, writing utensils, books, a drink, a calendar -- and you keep on adjusting everything, minute by minute, trying to get everything JUST SO. But really you're just sitting, fiddling with minutiae that doesn't need to be fiddled with. When I got that feeling, I knew it was time to stop.

  7. I know, that if I let myself, I would never be done. However, there's power in knowing that about yourself. Once I finish a first draft, I set a hard date deadline that I'm going to start querying by - usually before I go to a big conference. I always tell myself it will NEVER be perfect, but that doesn't mean it's not good.

    sarah.n.fisk at gmail dot com


"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.