Friday, June 17, 2016

Stage 4 - Acceptance

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!