Another month has passed away and a new month is born. What wonderful things will October have in store? Only the passing of each day will tell. On this wonderful morning, the muse brings inspiration from the always inspiring Dawn Metcalf’s post, "The Little Successes."
The inspiration: Harvest Time
Writing a book is like gardening. You plant, tend, and ultimately harvest the fruits of your labors. In the case of writing, the harvest is often publication (though it varies with your own goals).
In "real" life, a garden is planted in the spring (usually after the last frost has passed), grown during the summer, and harvested in the fall. It would be nice if our writing mirrored this relatively short time frame, but things in the writing world move more slowly (most of the time). Still, there is a season for everything.
The idea forms in our minds. Depending on the kind of writer, it’s either jumped right into and the writing begins (pantsters) or planned out in some form of outline or something (plotters)—or sometimes a combination of both (pantsplotters). Whatever the method, the writing happens at this stage. It’s a tough time, preparing the soil and getting the seeds into the ground/idea onto paper. But we persevere and get it done. YAY! Go us. Our springtime is over. We did it. Celebrate for a bit and wait for something to grow—in other words, take time away from your freshly written manuscript.
We’ve completed the planting, let the MS rest, and now it’s time to check in with it. Oh, look. There are weeds. It’s time to revise. Pull those weeds out and water the plants that are left. This season tends to last the longest—at least for me. It seems like the novel will never be ready—and it won’t if we don’t let it. Sometimes we just have to stop revising and let it stand on its own. Each writer is different when it comes to this. There are authors who wish they’d revised a scene or sentence even after publication. But you do have to eventually STOP revising if you ever want to be published.
Just as there are certain vegetables/fruits that can be harvested in summer, so too can you do a bit of light harvesting on your MS. Light harvesting is when you send out the manuscript to agents/editors. If you’ve planted and tended right, your manuscript should attract a few nibbles (requests for more) or, if you’re lucky, an all out feast (offer). But it’s not harvest time until you’ve landed a contract with a publishing house. This is why summer is the longest season.
*Disclaimer: I’m still stuck in Summer so I don’t have any personal experience with this season—I’m going by my vicarious living experience here*
Oh the joys! The planting and tending are over. You (or your agent) sent it out and landed a contract. It’s time to harvest that garden/manuscript. This is where you work on the line edits your editor has given. You make the suggested changes (or not), send off the completed manuscript (as completed as you can get it—remember, you have to stop revising sometime), and your work is done. The gardening is finished. Hooray!
Or is it finished?
Yes, you’ve reaped all you can from that particular garden, but, just like “real” gardening, it will soon be time to plant another one. I wouldn’t advise jumping right in—unless you have a deadline or something. Do as Dawn Metcalf suggests (you read that post I linked to, right?) and take some time to breathe. Enjoy the world around you, involve yourself in a different form of creativity. Read that book (or books) that have been tempting you from your to-be-read pile.
And, when it’s time for Spring again (this varies by writer—YOU, not Mother Nature decides when the writing spring arrives), plant a garden and start all over again.