Is it Soup Yet?

Dear Readers:

Remember the commercial where the little kid can’t wait for his Campbell’s soup lunch to be ready? I was thinking about that and comparing it to my revision process today as I sealed the envelope on an updated copy of my manuscript. I sent it on its way to another volunteer reader. She has offered to trade manuscripts with me and we will critique each other’s pages. This brought to mind a question I had from one of my beta readers: “How do you know when you’re done?” Good question. The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is “I don’t know.” I have taken many of the recommendations from my beta readers and applied them to my story. That took me about one month. As I reviewed and revised, I looked for redundancies. I wanted to cut my word total to 90,000 because that is the number a first time author should strive to achieve. Anything greater implies wordiness. And I know wordiness is one of my downfalls. Now, having completed another pass, I am sending my baby off once again, this time to a published author. She attended my creative writing series and seemed ahead of the curve in class. In fact she actually completed her first novel before the last session concluded. Then she hired a graphic designer to draw her cover, found a professional editor to evaluate her work, started her blog, entered several writing contests, and won an award from a Young Adult competition. Tiring of her unsuccessful literary agent search, she started her own imprint company and self-published her first YA novel. This while running another company she started, taking business trips, and generally earning a living. So when she contacted me via Facebook asking about my book and where it was at, it didn’t take me long to figure out here was a brain I needed to pick. I now will have several weeks to read two books she recommended about the next steps. This may be what artists experience when they put what they think is that last brush stroke to the canvas. Or the composer completes that final bar. Or maybe something is never truly done, just waiting for more work. The plot thickens.

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