When boredom means success

Sometime tomorrow I will finish yet another rewrite of Rogue Rainlord (or whatever the final title is!).

And this is absolutely the last draft.*

*{Er, well, sort of the last – there’s still an editor’s suggestions to be incorporated (if I ever sell the thing) and then the copy editor’s corrections and then the final proofs after that… Maybe I had better say this is the last of the writer’s drafts.}

I sometimes get asked: How do you know when it’s ready? After two re-writes? Ten? Thirty?

The answer for me is none of the above. I know it is ready when I get bored.

It’s been put away and allowed to jell several times, then re-read and found wanting. It has been rewritten and fixed and cut and added to and rearranged. It has been tightened and polished and read and corrected yet again. How many drafts? I haven’t the faintest clue. Numbers mean nothing; what counts is getting it right. And until I get it right, I can’t leave the darn thing alone. Some time back I got it structurally right and breathed a sigh of relief; now I have the polish right as well.

And I know that I have it about as right as it will ever be, short of having professional editorial input. How do I know? Because I am bored. Why am I bored? Because finally I can’t find much to fix. This is the way it is meant to be. This is my story and it is good. I love it. And I now find myself reading it as a reader, not as a writer – but it is a book I have read so many times over the past few months that it has no surprises any more. I have reached the stage where I have to let go, move on. I’ve no idea how other writers arrive at this decision, but for me, boredom means success. The first goal has been reached…

{Of course, when I have editorial input, I shall get itchy fingers again and there will be lots more polishing…}

And the good news is my agent has now read it (the version before this one) and has said that she thoroughly enjoyed it, thinks it is great stuff, and still finds a certain scene shocking, even though she read it before in a still earlier version.

Yay! She has no hesitation in sending the MS off.

How’s this for style? A public chess set in a cow paddock, just outside of Esperance. Love it.

Is the fence to keep the bovines from trampling the pawns or to make sure they don’t dribble on the players?

I have distinct memories from my childhood of a cow called Corrie who hated kids, and me racing down the driveway with her lowered horns just inches from my behind. Pamplona and running with the bulls? Yep, been there, done that, and I was only five. I dived through the neighbour’s barbed wire fence.


When boredom means success — 10 Comments

  1. Fingers crossed that your MS is published. Anyone I can lobby?

    Your memory of a near fatal encounter with Corrie sent a shiver down my spine as I had a similar incident when I was about 8yo. I was helping my father at dairy farm by mustering the cows into the milking shed. I had accidentally separated a cow from its calf and it charged me. I bolted to the nearest fence which happened to be twice as tall as me and somehow vaulted it in a single bound with the cow inches away.
    It’s amazing what fear and adrenaline can do to your athletic ability.

  2. Congrats on finishing the ms, Glenda. I hope your agent finds just the right place for it, very soon.

    Peter, your experience reminds me of a time when my husband and children and I were attempting to separate piglets from their mother for weaning. The sow, lured away by food, was shut in a separate pen while my kids scrambled for the squealing piglets and stuffed them into sacks. Mother pig was understandably anxious and she forced a sturdy piece of pig fence upwards with her snout to get back to her babies. My own babies moved very quick-smartly, I can tell you! One did your trick of vaulting a fence twice his height while another wound up on the roof of the pigsty with the sow snarling up at him as she defended her last piglet.

    We never did get that little gilt off its mother. She wound up a breeder by default.

  3. Wootie toot toot on the finishing the final pre-edit version of the ms. That is fantastic, and so satisfying. This is one I am so looking forward to seeing in print.

    For myself, I know the story’s cooked when it leaves me alone. When it’s not cooked, it’s nudging away at the back of my mind, and I keep thinking up things to do with it. When it’s done, it leaves me alone and I experience this odd feeling of peace.

  4. Speaking from the purely selfish position of the winner of your word count competition last year, this news is very welcome. Come on all you publishers, if you haven’t worked out yet that this woman can write books that sell, there’s something *really* wrong!!! I want my book (imagine this last said in an extremely annoying, whiney voice…does anyone have a 4 year old daughter?? That’s how it should sound *heh*).

  5. Joanna, tell you what, if I can’t get this published I will print and bind you a copy anyway!

    Peter, yep, cows are scary. Although the replacement we had for Corrie was a lovely thing called Nellie, who wouldn’t have hurt a fly. She had the most gorgeous eyelashes, I remember. My dad was terribly upset when she died in calfbirth – and it wasn’t a heifer, what’s more.

    Satima, pigs are probably even worse than cows. And they’re not vegetarians, either…

    Karen, there ain’t no peace when you haven’t sold it in advance, just nail-biting anxiety. Sigh.

  6. This isn’t meant to be a fatuous question, but how does it compare to the final stages of pregnancy? (completing the revised draft, I mean, not being chased by a cow!) Does it get to the point where you feel ‘this baby and I are as ready as we’re ever going to be, I just want to get the business of childbirth over and done with now’?

  7. I reckon that’s a pretty good analogy actually, Hrugaar. Roll on the birth.

    (Oh, and being 9 months pregnant is more like feeling the size of a cow than being chased by one… )

  8. Having successfully published some of your books, you wouldn’t think there would be a problem with any of the rest. Anyway, fingers crossed for you.

    Some of us get to the size of a cow without being pregnant LOL

  9. It is one of the misconceptions we all have when we start out, Jo: Wow! Book accepted! Plain sailing now…

    Alas, for me it hasn’t worked that way at all. What counts is big sales, and the fact that you have been published before is only a minor recommendation by contrast.

    Still, I know that I write good, entertaining books, and that the people who do buy them seem to love them, so I am confident that sooner or later things will look up.

  10. Because I have faith in the eventual publication of the book, I am prepared to wait at least a year… maybe six months, three… No, no, I CAN wait *grin*.

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