word craft


Manuscript Sent

The ENd

Today, I am send­ing a new man­u­script to my edi­tor. I’ve been work­ing on it for a year. I’ve shared it with no one. While my wife has a gen­er­al sense of what it is about, I’ve not even read it to her, as is my usu­al practice. 

All of this makes me quite ner­vous, not least because I’m not sure I have achieved what I set out to do. Some books are eas­i­er to write. Some are hard­er. This was one of the hard­er ones. In part that was because I didn’t go—as orig­i­nal­ly planned—to vis­it the site of my tale, some­thing I thought was nec­es­sary to do. Twice I had air tick­ets to go. Twice—because of Covid—I backed away. Before the book is tru­ly done, I may have a chance to do that. I have no doubt it would help the book. 

But I sus­pect there was anoth­er, more impor­tant rea­son I strug­gled. There have been times when I have had an idea for a sto­ry, thought about it, tried to define it, shape it, and got it into good enough shape enough to engage an editor/publisher. Then when push comes to the push­ing of the com­put­er keys, it turns out I hadn’t thought it out well enough. That’s to say I real­ly wasn’t sure what I was doing. 

One edi­tor of mine once described this kind of man­u­script as com­pa­ra­ble to cre­at­ing an exoskele­ton, which is to say a rigid exter­nal cov­er­ing for the body—think of a lob­ster shell—with not much inside. Or as an edi­tor once said to me, upon reject­ing a book, “It has no salt.” 

But it is also true the sheer amount of con­cen­tra­tion and re-writ­ing of a book over a lengthy peri­od of time—can make you blind to what is good and/or bad about it. 

The truth is if I had the time, patience, or resources, to draft a book, then put it aside for a year, and then come back to it, I would gain a much greater per­cep­tion of what I’ve done, or not done. 

I’ve nev­er been able to do that. 

The best I’ve man­aged is to refor­mat the book—change of font, mar­gins, the col­or of paper—things to trick the eyes. That can help. 

But I will read it to my wife, ask some trust­ed friends for a read­ing, learn from their respons­es and then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. 

And then there is this for­bid­ding fact: If the book is tru­ly done—if I actu­al­ly write “The End”—then I have to start another.

28 thoughts on “Manuscript Sent”

  1. Some­times I strug­gle with my sto­ries too 🙂 But I wish you all the best with your new man­u­script, Mr. Avi! And I hope you get a chance to vis­it the site of your book’s setting 🙂


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