Friday, February 3, 2012

Pop Open Some Bubbly

By Peg Brantley, Writer at Work, Stumbling Toward Publication

Pop open some bubbly and celebrate with me.

Thursday afternoon, which was three months and two days later than planned, I finished the first rough draft of a manuscript I thought would be easy to write—because I'd already written it. A simple little rewrite. How hard could that be?

That was way back when. I shouldn't have bothered to ask the question. It only took me about two days of "rewrite" to understand I needed to make it into an entirely new story. Ahh . . . there's a reason I referred to it as the first rough draft. (For more on what I learned about the process, check out Suspense Novelist.)

Gag me, but I was cool. I'm always down with making something better. But between you and me, faster would have been good.

Gayle's post on Thursday hit home, and not in a good way. Well, kind of . . . because the woman is funny. And spot-on. But I sat at my desk with these last few scenes to write, and they were like spreading cold butter on a thin cracker.

These scenes were so clear in my head. Bingety, bangety boop. Done. Well {gulp}, then I had to write them—the very last few scenes. And they needed to make sense. As I said, cold butter on a thin cracker. The only thing that made me finish was the way I'd told God and everybody I would. Pride before the crumbled cracker, so to speak.

When I finish a manuscript (this is my third, or is it my fourth?), there has always been a little postpartum thing going on. But not this time. I have another completed story that's been sitting there—a good one, I think—waiting for me to begin the long, laborious process of editing it. I can't say the finish line for this one made me want to launch my lunch, but it remained a little evasive. Maybe it's that other manuscript that froze my progress? Is it too late to hurl?

But I'm done with this first draft of this one story, and happily reporting that little fact to you.

I took the rest of Thursday off. Sort of. And Friday I intend on doing a little organization before getting back to work.

And bring my butter to room temperature.


  1. I'm afraid that's what happened to me also. I did a major rewrite on Forever Young: Blessing or Curse involving taking out a bunch of characters, so I put them in another manuscript and now have to finish that one, plus another sequel to the first one. Spoken from someone who has never done a series before, the idea is daunting.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Congrats on reaching that goal, Peg! Take the day off - or even the weekend - before rolling up your sleeves and starting the next one. Can't wait to see the results!

  3. Congratulations! So glad to hear you're setting goals and moving forward. It'll be fun to see your work out there, being read.

    And yes, rewrites can be some ways harder than starting from scratch.

  4. Morgan, your making my head spin! But I know you can pull this off—whatever it is.

    Jodi, I won't be starting on the next one until I finish the editing and pre-publishing things no the LAST one. Then I'll be going through that process on THIS one, then starting the NEXT one. (I'm as bad as Morgan.)

    L.J., thanks again for your encouragement. I'm so glad we're friends!

  5. THE END - isn't that fantastic? And some people say rewriting is fun. ha ... well, sometimes it is. Your post on your site reminded me that when I drove to the P.O. to mail my completed mamuscript to my editor, like you, I kept thinking something wasn't right. Just didn't FEEL right. Almost to the post office, it suddenly hit me what I needed to do. I turned around and went home and rewrote the last few pages. It felt right. That was my only published book. Now, I have three manuscripts waiting, waiting, waiting for revision. {sigh} You'll get there, Peg. And hopefully I will too!

  6. Congratulations Peg! It's always good to clear a hurdle.

  7. Linda, thanks. I began the edits on a manuscript I printed out on July 13th tonight. Shakin' in my boots here . . .

    Kudos on those manuscripts, Jess. What are you waiting for?

    Tom, thanks. One hurdle at a time is about all I can muster.

  8. Yay, Peg!
    BTW, that Elton John song is incorrect. "Sorry" is not the hardest word. "The End" is.

  9. Congratulations, Peg, on taking that leap--it's not an easy one, kind of like jumping into cold water. The hardest part is getting in, but once you do, you realize it's not so bad. I think the most important thing you can do is trust the process and know that it will lead where you need to go. Don't resist. Let go. That's an order from your Zen master here ;)

    Best of luck.

  10. I sympathize, Peg,(been there--doing that) but I'm very happy for you that you managed to spread the butter in the end. Hope I get to read it one day! Keep at it.


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