‘What don’t you like about yourself?’
The pages before me are nothing spectacular or eye catching, the basic form of the story, a rough draft. A few pretty features mingled with the unsightly, overall its average at best.
‘Make me beautiful,’ beg the words on the pages. ‘Make me sparkle.’
‘It’s only been a month since you where completed. You still have that new manuscript shine.’
‘That won’t last. One thorough read and it will be gone. Every imperfection a lasting impression, my few good features a fleeting memory. This is a tough business and I do not want rejection stamped across my title page because you were squeamish.’
‘No buts, you know perfectly well what I don’t like about myself. You don’t like it either.’
‘Don’t you want to wait for a second opinion?’
‘You passed me on to a chosen few and comments have been made. Many of which echoed your own. In the end, you have the final say before sending me out. So what’s it going to be? Are you going to risk a foolish rejection or are you going to pick up that red pen and make me beautiful?’
Picking up the red pen is often the hardest and easiest thing I do, a strange combination of fear and elation. What if there are so many red marks that it’s unfixable? What if I can’t see beyond my own selfish love of the words and neglect to cut something that’s not needed? What if, what if, what if… Phffft, get over it.
What I have is bits of muscle and skin clinging precariously to the bones of a story. Comments from my writing group and beta readers have been helpful in confirming some of my doubts and questions. Now it’s up to me.
I finished printing it out, ready to read it from a reader’s perspective instead of a writer. No pen yet, just reading. Reading parts, especially dialogue aloud, looking and listening to the words. Do they flow? Are they awkward or do they stumble? Am I confused, do I have to reread parts to understand what’s happening?
Once the initial read is accomplished then I’ll pick up the pen and start all over. This time making notes of things that bothered me. When that’s done guess what? I’ll start all over again, this time looking for grammar and punctuation, misused, unnecessary and repetitive words.
The next step will be to take my notes and move back to the laptop. I’ll remove the excess, move sections to where they will benefit instead of hinder, and implant where needed. Then it starts all over again, until I’m satisfied that I’ve made the words on the page beautiful.
With a little patience, a lot of caffeine and the ability to retain some semblance of sanity, I just may end up with something worth sending out.