By Rick Barry
When my third novel, The Methuselah Project, approached publication, I experienced something new. I was growing weary of reading, rereading, and editing my own words.
Normally we novelists are lovers of words. So how did I become tired reading of my own story? First, that particular suspense was tricky to write. It consists of two timelines (one beginning in World War II, the other in our current day) that eventually converge. Even before showing the story to anyone, getting the alternating timelines ironed out required plenty of reading and tweaking—by me.
The story fired the imagination of literary agent Linda Glaz, who offered representation. But Linda pointed out weak sections to improve, which I did. Next, the publishing committee at Kregel Books fell in love with this story. (One editor said each person on the committee wanted it even before finishing the manuscript.) However, each of the three editors I worked with made suggestions and requested changes to enhance the story. That chore fell to me. I loved The Methuselah Project, but I grew tired of reading it over and over. I recall thinking, “I just want it done!”
What does this have to do with you? Chances are, you’re not descended from a race of super humans who can craft glittering manuscripts that need no polish. So, your first draft will beg you to iron out plot wrinkles, to replace lackluster nouns and verbs with vibrant ones, to ramp up the conflict, and to make the dialogue sparkle. Because all of these changes demand time with your story, you too just might get sick of seeing your own words.
Here are two keys to survival:
1. Remember, nobody loves your story the way you do. If you hope readers will fall in love with it, you’re the best person to roll up your sleeves and slog through line after line, improving as you go. Perfecting a manuscript takes time, with eyeballs on the page.
2. Bear in mind that impatience will undermine your book. If you were the chef in your own restaurant, you might get sick of cooking the same dishes over and over. But cutting corners and serving up mediocre, half-baked meals would lose customers. The same is true in writing. A first draft gets the story out of your head, but revising and polishing is where the magic happens. Even if you get sick of your words, you must meticulously polish them to delight your readers and win word-of-mouth buzz.
So, no matter how weary of your own words you become, don’t rush the revision. The goal isn’t simply getting published. The real goal is getting published with a book so delightful your readers will appreciate you for it!
Rick Barry speaks Russian and has visited Eastern Europe over 50 times for Christian ministry. He leads an active life that has included mountain climbing, jumping out of airplanes, and even prowling deserted buildings in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Rick believes a wide variety of experience provides fuel for his fiction. He has over 200 published articles and short fiction to his credit, plus three published novels. His most recent novel is The Methuselah Project, by Kregel Books. Author’s website and blog: www.rickcbarry.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rick.barry.184 Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterRickBarry
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