Friday, January 27, 2012

How Editing and Polishing a Manuscript is like Putting on Make Up

You know how you get out of the shower and your hair is up in your super-sexy plastic shower cap, and yesterday's mascara is streaked down your face, and your skin is all red and splotchy from the hot water, you look in the mirror and think, "my poor husband"? (No, just me? Well go with it, for the sake of metaphor, okay?) Well, that's what it's like when you read through the first draft of your manuscript.

You cringe at the way "just" and "was" are littered across every page. You stab your fork forcefully into the plate of black beans and cous cous (it's all that was in the cupboard because you were locked in the house writing your manuscript) at every terrible simile. You throw your hands in the air and yell things like, "What the Hell is a Finnimbrum and why did I write about it?"

But then, you grab your cold cream and wipe away the remnant mascara. You moisturize and tweeze, and work your magic. Skillfully highlighting your best features and covering the blemishes. You consult fashion magazines to figure out if it's shimmer gloss or matte lipstick this spring and ignore them when they say orange is the new pink (it isn't).

Editing your first draft is just like that. You rewrite entire scenes, move chapters and consult every grammar site you have in your bookmarks. If you're like me, you even take a self editing course BEFORE your write your book, sometimes wondering if it did more harm than good (it didn't).

If you're feeling really brave, or lost, you head to Sephora and ask one of those heavily adorned women that hawk thirty dollar sticks of eyeliner to show you how to perfectly apply blush and recommend a better color palate for your skin tone.

And that's exactly what it's like to give your second draft to your critique partners. They point out when you use the same adjective 15 times and how you forgot to mention the heroine was missing an arm until the last chapter when the hero gives her one glove for Christmas.

But in both scenarios, you aren't throwing in the towel. You don't say "screw it" and put a paper bag on your head, just like you don't print your manuscript, delete it from your hard drive and then set all 300 pages on fire (even if you fantasize about it).

You clean it up, make it the prettiest it can possibly be, and then send it out into the word for everyone to see. And jut like you, not everyone is going to think it's pretty, but there is always one person who will find it to be beautiful. That, my friends, is the only person that matters. And they are worth every tweezed eyebrow and red penned page.

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