Sometimes I get this feeling that if I don’t act now, right now, today, a knocking opportunity will be snagged up by someone and lost to me. In the past, this feeling has led me to jump before I was dressed for the part, or so to speak, especially as a writer new to the publishing world. The end result didn’t lead to good news.

As writers, connected by the world-wide net, this urge to jump can occur almost every day. Because of technology, our circle of friends is much larger than it was say ten years ago and hardly a day goes by without someone sharing great news; they final in a contest or won, they gained the interest of an agent or editor or they actually signed with an agent or sold their work. We feel happy for them but ( I don’t know how this possible) in the very same moment we feel that urge to push our unpolished baby out the door, knowing in our hearts it’s not ready.

There is truth in the old adage PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD or in FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT. Bad first impressions take years and a ton of work to undo. I learned my lesson quickly and now each time I hear someone's good fortune I congratulate them and take my baby for a walk, for only I know when it will be ready for the public's critical eye.

So I’m wondering today, have you felt this way? And if so what made you pull in the reins--if you want to share? And how do you know when your baby is ready to be shown off?

20 comments

  1. Judy // April 8, 2010 at 9:06 AM  

    Boy! I felt you were writing about me, Autumn. One of my biggest writing faults is sending stuff out before I should. I get so excited with the idea that I leap too far, too fast. Lately, I've taken longer looks at my babies and wiped a slobber off their dear little faces! I've done this with on-line courses and by printing off good pieces of advice on line. Thanks for a good blog!

  2. Beth Trissel // April 8, 2010 at 9:33 AM  

    Incredibly wise insight. Man, have I been there, done that.

  3. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 10:02 AM  

    Oh, I'm so happy you related to the post, Judy. We think are babies are beautiful from the first day. It's hard not to see their flaws.

    I've now, after thinking there is no more I can do to polish my work, send it out to two readers. It's amazing what they find, and truly the story will be much better.

    Good luck with your baby.

  4. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

    Thanks, Beth.

  5. Anonymous // April 8, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

    Great post, Autumn. Now I like to put a completed manuscript aside--then go back later for a final editing. Time away seems to make the errors pop out. Before I would have sent it out, thrilled and relieved that I was finished.

  6. Nightingale // April 8, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

    I never know when my baby is ready! But yes I have felt like that many times. Every time I read that someone else has published a fallen angel story I panic. How do I pull in the reins? I consult the wise MM.

  7. Joelle Charbonneau // April 8, 2010 at 11:09 AM  

    I'm a voice teacher, so my day job involves picking apart little flaws to make my students' really good singing even better. So I tend to bring that attitude over into my writing - which means I can always find a flaw. Letting go of the manuscript is hard for me. I have my husband read it first (he's really picky) then a great critique partner who never lets me get away with anything. Once those two give me the okay, I take the plunge and send it out. And it scares me each time I do.

  8. Jeannie Lin // April 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

    Great post Autumn! My babies are never ready. Ever. Every time I hit send, I search for the mythical "undo" or "never mind" key.

    The hard thing is, it always seems so much easier for everyone else, as you mentioned. A fellow writer was working on a proposal a couple months ago and poof! 3 book deal.

    With each send, I hope that the writing has gotten a little bit more ready, but it never really is as good as it can be, is it? I hope to one day develop the wise internal editor who knows the right balance.

  9. Scarlet Pumpernickel // April 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM  

    Autumn you've found the most vunerable thing for most writers. It makes us feel proud to hear of others success, but that little voice in the back of our minds that is yelling about missed opportunities and being left behind is hard to deal with sometimes. It often demands that we too, do something. Learning to control that impulse is a sharp learning curve. Yep, been there done that.

  10. Mary Marvella // April 8, 2010 at 12:55 PM  

    Hey, Autumn! Good post.

    After so many near misses and "your baby is UGLY and her mama dresses her funny letters", I'm now leery about submitting. I love my babies, worts, big glasses, freckles, and all.

    I've been itching to send one baby our again, but I know something needs fixin'.

    I also have a demons, angels, and (secret ingredient) WIP that I need to write faster. Couldn't I just send out a partial and test the waters while I finish it?

  11. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 1:36 PM  

    Putting the wip aside is a great way of catching flaws, anonymous and it doesn't matter how big or tiny the work is. Look at my typo above. Yikes. That is what I get for answering posts while rushing out the door to take Mom grocery shopping.

    Thanks for stopping by and speaking up. WINK

  12. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 1:40 PM  

    Hmmm the wise MM, huh. Maybe I need to say MM stop me. Such and such just sold again or got their dream agent. I'm not sure I want an agent at this point so why am I rushing to get to the Post Office or hit the send key? Please help.

    LOL.

    Wait. Does she beat you over the head? LOL.

  13. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 1:42 PM  

    Yup, I use readers too. Still it is scary. Why? I'm not afraid of rejections. Heck, they're part of the business. It is we're afraid of STARDOM. We'll go with that.

  14. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 1:45 PM  

    Jeannie, if you figure out the wise internal editor method please share it with me. I could stare at the same pages, tweaking, for years I think. Wait isn't that what editors are suppose to do? Hmmmm.

  15. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 1:47 PM  

    Scarlet, I found this demon while walking my three miles last night. Pop there is was. It must have been close by for a while, because I'm still making my baby pretty.

    Have you learn the curve yet/

  16. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 1:52 PM  

    I'd be on pins and needles sending out a partial. What if they love it and want it yesterday?

    But hey, some houses offer 3 books contract with only the first story written. I envy those who have found the formula to their editor's hearts. I really do.

  17. Mary Marvella // April 8, 2010 at 3:32 PM  

    Autumn, I never beat anyone over the head. Really!

  18. Autumn Jordon // April 8, 2010 at 3:49 PM  

    I know. GRIN. I just had to say that. Having fun today. WINK (((HUGS))

  19. Mary Ricksen // April 8, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

    You always hit it right on the nose Autumn!

  20. Dayana // April 10, 2010 at 9:06 AM  

    Autumn, this is a fabulous post and hits home with me. My first book sat for months then years and I would pull it out work on it then shelf it again. I feared submitting it feeling it was never gonna be ready. One day I got brave and let an editor read it and she liked it! I was floored. I went through the process, got published and moved on to other projects. Well, at some point I decided the pub house was not a good fit as they were not techically a 'romance' house so when the contract was up, I pulled the book and began to resubmit to 'romance' houses only to find that my baby 'sucked'! Literally! It have too many POV characters and needed a lot of work. I'd grown as a writer and couldn't believe the way the book read to me now!

    Anyway, yes, you can jump into the fire with both feet and yes, it does take a lot to 'fix' the error.

    The book has to have a total rewrite which I will tackle one of these days:)

    Great post.

    Dayana~