I am the first person to proofread each of my books. When I’m sure I’m done with any significant editing, I begin to read the story looking for typos or inconsistencies. I clean up dialog, adding or subtracting tags to be sure it’s clear who’s speaking and still flows smoothly. I rearrange sentences, check comma placement, consider synonyms and just get as nit-picky as I can make myself.
In truth, I don’t have to make myself nit-picky. I’m naturally a detail person. (Doesn’t detail person sound nicer than nit-picky?) The danger of this phase lies in the fact that it could have no end. I could find something to change every time I look at the project because I’m not simply looking for errors. I’m looking for anything that might sound a teeny bit better another way.
There was an adverb in a recent book that would not sit right for me. I changed it over and over, usually back to what it had been on the last pass. At some point though, I need to be able to close a book. I need to be able to say to myself, “I’ve done my best.” I need to be able to say, “If there is a person out there who is going to judge this book entirely on whether I said someone did something casually or carelessly, there’s really nothing I can do about that.”
This is what acceptance is all about. Acceptance is getting to a place where I feel as though I’ve fixed what needs to be fixed and can let everything else go.
Let’s review the steps. Stage 1 is Floundering, when I brainstorm ideas for a book. Stage 2, Insomnia, is when I try to get all those thoughts on paper before I forget them. Stage 3 is the major editing, the Pain of admitting where I’m wrong and sometimes working backwards. Then comes this 4th stage of Acceptance. Last month I wrote that I hoped to be on this stage with the last Coffee and Donuts book by now.
I confess that I am not.
This is actually good news. I have so far left out the most important part of my writing process. This part is not a separate step but the overall driving force behind my writing. It’s called Doing Whatever the Heck I Want.
As my own boss, if I want to backburner the last Coffee and Donuts book to work on a Stories From Hartford prequel, then that’s what I’m going to do. And it’s what I have done. My next release will be Hearts on the Window (Stories From Hartford#0.5). It’s set about two years before Andrew’s Key and tells the story of how Jill met her husband. Because it’s shorter than most of my work, a novella, it will only be available as an ebook. It should be out by the end of this month. An excerpt is already posted on goodreads. Enjoy!