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Precious Virgins of The Final Draft

Or, why you owe it to yourself to do your job, you lazy, lazy git...

Nothing curses the needy writer worse than impatience -- I should know, I want the rewards of having written a good book, but without all the necessary work. And so, as I head into draft 3 of Eat the Drink, the draft that will go to my agent after Christmas, I have to force myself with cords and nails, to stay in front of the screen and finish the bloody thing properly.

Yes, properly.

And what do I mean by that?

I'm excited by the manuscript. I love the world-building and the two main characters. But as I read through it, there are passages that I know are not quite right. There are plot elements that need fixing, clarifying, polishing. And to fix them will require weeks of work while everybody else is out partying.

That's when the voice starts whispering in my ear: "It's good enough now. Why not send it off? You'll get pleasure when your agent says he loves it. You'll get your answer *instantly*. Eat cake now, my pretty, and sleep."

That voice is a liar. It's even more of a liar than the one telling me to kill my neighbours or the one that warns me I'll fade away if I don't have extra dessert after a feast.

Because my manuscript has a LOT wrong with it. An awful lot, but to see it, I'll need the help of Virgin readers, people who don't know that the butler did it and who can still be caught out by that killer twist if I've done it right. And virgin readers are expensive. You can't take just anybody. You'll need another experienced writer if you can get 'em and they will be cheeky enough to demand that you read their work too.

And remember, you can only use them once. It's not that they can't be useful in further drafts down the road, but now that they know it was the butler, you'll never have the opportunity to catch them out again.

It's easy to waste their precious eyeballs, especially if you let pass all those things you should have known how to fix by yourself. Every shoddy scene adds more noise to the signal and takes them out of the plot and makes it that bit harder for them to find the mistakes that you would never be able to find yourself.

So, don't be a lazy sod like me and do it right. Or my voices will tell me where you live...



( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 13th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and eloquent! That about sums up so many feelings I've had for my own work! It was your virgin eyes that made my own Chapter One close to awesome and remember you can look at your own work with virgin eyes sometimes, my friend. Now get off your arse, ya lazy git and get movin'! (I'm trying to sound more Irish for you! It's kind of hard since I sound like a combination of NY Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay and the guy from the Jerky Boys.)
Dec. 13th, 2009 06:14 pm (UTC)
I *know* I have a lazy ass! No need to remind me. I'm sitting on it right now!
Dec. 13th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
Methinks you might be a bit hard on yourself--but then again, it's better than Jon's old Gran, so there's that.
Dec. 13th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
Yes -- she keeps calling me now too and yelling abuse down the phone...
Dec. 13th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
Spooky :)
Dec. 13th, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
Excellent post! And exactly what I need to hear (I'm champing at the bit, waiting to hear from my beta-readers in mid-January).

Thanks for sharing :)
Dec. 13th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, we all need to hear it. I wrote this piece as a way of telling it to myself again...
Dec. 13th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
We know that something worth doing is worth doing to the best of our ability though, right? Especially if it's going to have our name on it.

When you think that everyone else is out partying except you take pleasure from the knowledge that I will be stuck at my desk for most of the holiday season. I am in work right now, doing lab work and writing up, and will be here until at least 9.30pm.

Dec. 13th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
I am in work right now, doing lab work and writing up, and will be here until at least 9.30pm.

Cool! That's what I like to hear ;p
Dec. 13th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
If you need to put your nose to the grindstone, what are you doing posting? You are losing valuable time even just reading this, man!

On a more serious note, good luck with staying on focus and working.
Dec. 14th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
Thanks, fellow :)
Dec. 13th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
I wish I had the time to be a virgin reader - I'm actually looking forward to buying the next novel (in hardcover, even) as soon as it comes out!

BTW, I don't fear your voices. My own voices are telling me to lure you here and have football hooligans teach you the meaning of South America...
Dec. 14th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
Cool! I'll pack my bags at once :-)
Dec. 13th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
Oh! Oh! Me! Me! I'll read it! And be merciless with my criticisms. I'll make you cry at least once, I promise!
Dec. 14th, 2009 10:13 am (UTC)
I cry every day. Special tears...
Dec. 14th, 2009 10:54 am (UTC)
...and then the virgins are sacrificed atop a flaming, blood drenched pyre of the old draft while screaming, gibbering gods dance in the sky. You have all the fun.
Dec. 14th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Yes, I love a good sacrificial pyre!
Dec. 14th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
"So, don't be a lazy sod like me and do it right. Or my voices will tell me where you live..."

Shit, you already know much too much about where I live.
Clever indeed, Ó Guilín.
Dec. 14th, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
I *do* know where you live. Literally ;p
Dec. 14th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'd love to read for you, but I'd just tell you you were wonderful and that wouldn't be very helpful at all.
Dec. 14th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Ha, ha! I tell myself that all the time too -- sweet, sweet lies, unfortunately, but if I didn't do it, I couldn't get out of bed in the morning.
Dec. 19th, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
Maybe you're conserving energy. Wait, that is what I tell myself. Great, what I've gathered from your post is that I'm lazy . . .

Hahaha . . . I'm not lazy and neither are you (I bet). Sometimes we just need a little extra nudge to get things done.
Dec. 19th, 2009 10:29 am (UTC)
I need big, big nudges. And kicks!
Dec. 19th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
Okay, well consider yourself kicked . . . hard . . . with my cowboy boots . . .

Dec. 19th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
Dec. 19th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
I like to think of them as "fresh and unpolluted" rather than virgins. After all, who knows what they might have been up to with other writers? -)
Dec. 19th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
Now that's disgusting! None of my darlings would have anything to do with other writers... would they? WOULD THEY????

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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