Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finish-Line Jitters

by Stephanie Black

After my editor sent me the typeset copy of Cold as Ice so I could give it one final read-through to spot any mistakes, he remarked that wasn’t it a great feeling to be so near the finish line? I responded that it was both great and scary—getting to the point where the book was how it was and I couldn’t change things anymore. That’s a good thing, he said, and I confessed to being a bit neurotic, which I’m sure came as no surprise to him.

I’m such a rewriter that it can be hard for me to let go of a book. Should I have made a change there? Does everything work? Wait, I want to add something to that final scene! Stop the press! (Haven't you always wanted to say that?) This time, I feel like I was even more stressed than usual, and after I turned in my list of changes, I started worrying about things I wished I’d added or tweaked. Urrghh! Last-minute panic attack!

Maybe part of the reason for the finish-line panic and the desire to do more tweaking is that the final part of the publication process happened very quickly. I hadn’t worked on the book since I turned it in last fall, so it’s not as though I was sick of working with it or had gone through it a bazillion times recently (and I can go through a manuscript a lot of times without getting sick of it—like I said, I’m a rewriter). Then I got the edits, went through those and made my changes, got the typeset, proofed that, sent in my final corrections, and off to press it went, all in the course of three weeks. If I’d had more time, I would have loved to keep fiddling with it, so it’s probably good I didn’t have more time because I kind of need to, you know, finish getting ready for girls camp (“Sorry, counselors, we never finished the schedule because I had to keep tweaking my manuscript. Just wing it this year, 'kay?")

Another part of the panic is, of course, the usual writer’s fear—what will people think of it? Inevitably, someone out there isn’t going to like my work. I know that. What will I get criticized for this time? I don’t know, but someone will find something. It is a bit scary pouring yourself into writing a book and putting it out there for comment. When I mentioned my finish-line angst to a group of writer friends, I was heartened to find out that I am far from alone in getting nervous at the end. And now that the book is off to press and I CAN’T change anything, no matter what, I’m feeling a lot calmer. In fact--I'm excited! Six more weeks and the book will be out!!

Here's a link to my website where I posted the backliner blurb. I'll try to get the first chapter up there before too long, but it won't happen today--the formatting is going to take me while.

Little-known fact about Cold as Ice: those amazing lips on the cover image? They’re mine.


At 6/23/2010 3:12 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

I'm a rewriter too and can imagine the angst. Glad that deadline is past so you can finally relax. wait...after Girl's Camp you can relax.

At 6/23/2010 6:44 PM, Blogger Taffy said...

Wow! You're book cover and lips are awesome :)
You're almost done! Yippee!

At 6/23/2010 10:34 PM, Blogger Marny said...

Part of the reason the last proof authors see is typeset pages is to keep them from rewriting at that stage. :) It's not so bad with fiction, but especially with nonfiction rewriting after the book is typeset can have huge consequences. At the least, it can change the line endings in a paragraph (which most publishers don't care about, but some of us try to avoid bad line breaks). At worst, it can change the pagination of the whole book, which may ripple to the table of contents, the index, and the cover. I just finished typesetting and indexing a book where the author added two paragraphs at the final proof stage, but it caused havoc with the index, and of course we were on a tight deadline at that point. So don't feel (too) bad; you're not the only one who wants to keep changing things.

At 6/24/2010 12:53 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

True, Kimberly--if I can just make it through the next three weeks, THEN I can relax!

:) Thanks, Taffy.

Marny, thanks for the insights on what the process is like from the other side. That's an eye-opener.

At 6/24/2010 1:45 AM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...

You know I thought about commenting on the lips on the Cold as Ice cover in an earlier post. I was going to say I thought there was quite a bit of lipstick caked on them. Sure glad now that I refrained from doing that. Whew.


At 6/24/2010 11:29 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Ha ha, Charlie, after I got the cover I joked to my editor that I'd better get the main character a new tube of lipstick.

At 6/24/2010 6:17 PM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

Stephanie, I'm the opposite. I don't rewrite. I write the thing, then I go through it once and change maybe a word or two, then I declare it finished and never touch it again.

That's why your books are so much better than mine.

At 6/24/2010 7:15 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Ditto what Marney said. Drives me nuts. That is why some publishers threaten to charge authors if they make changes after typesetting.

At 6/24/2010 9:38 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Anna, I think it's just that it takes me multiple drafts to produce something publishable, whereas you can do it in one draft! My brain is so disorganized that it takes me a while to find the story and get everything working.

Karlene, I'm glad my publisher hasn't sent me a bill yet :)


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