Final Things

Taking the last step in any given part of a process is absolutely terrifying.

Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure everyone in the universe feels that way.

But there are important things to do at the end of something, and as busy as you are being nervous and wiggly and impatient and terrified and emotional, you still have to stick it out to the end.

Now let’s pull this talk of ends into writing, and talk about finishing revisions and preparing for querying.

Let’s say you wrote a super awesome book about swing-dancing robots in a world where dancers are the top citizens of the universe and then their dance program fails and they have to find worth elsewhere.

That’s fun. So then, let’s say you let it rest for a few weeks, then did some polishing and loose-end-tying and sent it off to betas, then it came back.

Now you read through all the notes they gave you, patch up the little holes they’ve punctured in your soul, and begin making changes. Maybe you slash a character. Maybe you burn some chapters. Maybe you practically start over from scratch. This step is a particular kind of terror of it’s own, because there’s an overwhelming feeling that you might break the book. What if you change something you can’t change back? What if you DESTROY EVERYTHING?

It’s okay, friends. You can always put the pieces back together again. That’s the beautiful thing about computers and word documents and story universes – you are the master of them. You get to decide what happens and when and how. And if at any moment you don’t like it, you can change it again. Whatever happens, you rip it up and sew it back together, and you send it off to more readers.

Hopefully the notes that come back are a little easier on the eyes this time. Maybe there’s a few minor tweaks, an extra scene to add, something to incorporate earlier, whatever – but smaller things you can handle more easily.

Then, it’s time to break out an ereader. Ipad, Kindle, whatever you like to use, loading your book onto a new kind of screen is an excellent idea. I spent this last weekend reading an MS on my Ipad and it was hugely helpful. I found a number of typos and caught a few small details I never fixed in the latest round of revisions. Something about it being on that screen helps your brain see it a bit differently at least in terms of details, if not overall plot.

Don’t skip ahead! It’s incredibly hard, sometimes, when you’re nearing the end of something, to keep your focus. It’s hard to work with excellence all the way through, to not let your attention wander, or to remain passionate and dedicated despite being on the millionth iteration of something. But that’s what you have to do, because that’s where excellence comes from…hard work, drive, and passion. As wonderful is the end is, you don’t want to reach it until it’s time.

And at last, when you’ve fixed all the big things and as many of the little things as you can dredge up, you’ll know that as you prepare to move to the next phase, you’re doing so with confidence in what you have to offer. Your story is a piece of you. We know each other through our stories. So, this particular round of revisions may be your first, your last, or any of the thousands in between. But see it through, from beginning to end, always pursuing your own personal best.

And then when you’re done, eat tacos. With excellence.

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