How Can You Win When You Keep Moving the Goal?

I finished the fifth draft of THE MEMORY THIEF yesterday and sent it off to my editor. Denisa and the kids all wanted to celebrate me being done with the revision (mainly because it’s been occupying a lot of my spare time the last month, no doubt), but I found myself hesitant. Why celebrate something that isn’t actually finished? I’ll be getting new edits in a few weeks, and then I’ll have to work on those. That process will likely repeat a few more times before I’m “done” with the book. And the thing is, each iteration of it becomes easier (hopefully), as the book gets closer and closer to finished.

By the time the book is actually done? It will have been a copy edit that got it there, and those aren’t typically too straining. (Knock on wood.) So at that point, there doesn’t really feel like a reason to celebrate. You might as well celebrate having successfully showered in the morning, or eaten your breakfast.

That’s the thing with writing. So much of it is a process that it’s hard to have times to really celebrate or congratulate yourself on it. (This feels like a post I’ve written before. I tried to find it, but couldn’t. Oh well. It bears repeating.)

I write a first draft, but I don’t celebrate that. Why bother? It might be crummy. I stick it in a drawer and wait for three or four months.

I write a second draft, but I don’t celebrate that. Why bother? It still might be crummy. I send it to the agents.

The agents give feedback, and I write a third draft, but I don’t celebrate that. Why bother? Better to wait to hear if they liked the revisions.

The agents give more feedback, and I write a fourth draft, but I don’t celebrate that. Why bother? It wasn’t much of a revision to start with.

We send the book out and wait. And wait.

I get a potential nibble of interest, but I don’t celebrate that. Don’t want to jinx it.

The offer turns into a probable offer. Still no celebration. Nothing’s been signed yet. Don’t want to jinx it

The offer turns into a solid offer, but I don’t celebrate that. We have yet to hear back from all the other editors. Also, don’t want to jinx it.

I sign the contract, but I don’t celebrate that. Too much work to be done on revisions.

You get the picture?

Writing is a continual process that just keeps churning. You need to pick points to celebrate, or else you never have a chance to feel some accomplishment. So today I’m very happy to be done with the fifth draft, even if it still needs more work. Even if I’ve already turned to OUR LADY to see what the fourth draft for that should look like.

Then again, I don’t write to be able to celebrate. I write because I just love writing. True story.

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