Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And that is how you do THAT!

I am in shock. I have actually done something I didn't think that I could do.

I edited a 557-page manuscript in less than a week. Six days, to be exact.

And I can't believe I did it!!

Not only did I edit the manuscript, though, but I also interviewed people and wrote up a new chapter for this book. A chapter which I hadn't thought about including at the beginning, but definitely about something that SHOULD be in this book.

I can't believe it. I DID IT!!!

Now 'scuse me while I go somewhere to collapse in exhaustion. (As it is, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night. Finished the whole job at 2:15 a.m. this morning.)

Of course, pulling it off wasn't easy. At the very beginning, I suggested to my husband that I rent a laptop for this job. Aside from the laptop having a better OS than the computer, it would free up the ONE computer we have in this house. (Yeah, we're a Stone Age family. LOL!) But he said, "Why should I pay $175 for something we can do for free?" Still, he ended up being UNHAPPY about not being able to use the computer as much. (He ended up watching a lot of TV.) He was also unhappy about me not doing as much housework as usual or making nice dinners like I have before. (Well, at least the kids were clean and fed!) My daughter also was not a happy camper about the computer thing, but nevertheless, she WAS a big supporter over the whole thing. In addition to both of them having to wake me up when I fell asleep at the computer (and that happened a lot -- some of the documents got mangled when I fell on the keys! LOL), she was very excited about her mommy getting a book published.

It was a time like this I was grateful that I don't work outside of the home. Granted, I was a LOUSY homemaker during this time (and I had to keep reminding hubby that this was ONLY temporary -- while at the same time wondering why HE didn't do the dishes or vacuum the floor. Gah!), but this really stood out as just what it's like when you make writing your "career." Just as people put so much time and effort into their jobs, authors have to do the same thing. This is what it's like. We're putting our time and our energy into making the books we write the best we can.

Of course, I do realize that there are people who are writers who HAVE to work part- or fulltime jobs, and would resent that I don't and that I DO have the time to invest in "showing up" for my job as a writer. And I won't fault them for that. But as for me, I was grateful that I didn't have to worry about that. In addition to everything else....

Still, I was kinda bummed I had to postpone our vacation to California. There was too much going on on top of this deadline, so we decided it was best to postpone, anyway. And my sister was REALLY supoortive and understanding about that. Which I am grateful for. But we're DEFINITELY going to make up for that "lost vacation" soon enough. :)

It bothered me that I had to spend so much time working on it and neglecting the house and other writing projects. But I just kept telling myself, "This, too, shall pass." It will end eventually and I had to keep going to get to the end. I just kept at it and kept at it. Every moment I had to work on the manuscript, I was working on it. The temptation was there to just glean over the pages, but a part of myself REFUSED to do a poor job. I had to catch EVERY typo, make sure EVERY quotation mark was there, double check facts and revise where needed. Of course, I kept in touch with my co-author a lot. We were e-mailing each other back and forth every day! I kept her updated on the progress and discussed certain things with her concerning the material. Some of the work was tedious -- like the parts I had to add to the bibliography -- but I just kept going and going. Every day, every night, I was working on the edits.

I didn't blog, except to update the DC blog after the offer for the copywriting seminar ended. Didn't log in at MySpace. Didn't play any computer games, hang out at message boards, write something else (though I WAS tempted!) or do any freelancing. I didn't go out, didn't exercise, didn't visit with friends, send or answer personal emails or yak my head off on the phone (or, should I say, "type my fingers off for the relay calls").

I did have to put up with some migraines, wrist pain and stiffness in my back, shoulders and neck. Eventually, I started to occasionally take breaks to stretch, walk around and relax. I also drank LOTS of coffee and kept my chair in a comfortable position so I wouldn't be hurting my back. (I even tried drinking one of those energy drinks to help me stay awake -- but I STILL fell asleep!) I did get a little eyestrain but after some rest, my eyes were okay again.

I am SO GRATEFUL to the people who just really invested their time and energy to help me get the new chapter written up in time. That really meant a whole lot!! I am thankful they were so readily available to answer my questions, share their information and get pictures to me so quickly. That REALLY helped!!

I am also grateful that I didn't miss my baby's first steps when I was so busy with the edits. He is VERY close to walking and he DID take 2 steps before plopping back onto the floor. And he has stood up without help for all of 10 seconds. But no walking yet. I'm glad I didn't miss that!

One thing I often do is test myself. I give myself a challenge, just to see if I CAN do this thing or to improve a skill. But I didn't "give" myself this challenge; my co-author threw it at me! And, of course, I was willing to do it. :D I WANTED to do it. I had to see if I could edit this MAMMOTH manuscript in the span of one week. At first, I aimed for 3 days, but that was NOT possible. So I set it to a week. I got it done in LESS THAN a week! Yay!

Most of these challenges teach me important lessons and I did learn valuable lessons about being a working writer from all of this.

I learned just how important persistence is. To JUST KEEP GOING!

I learned how to work fast, and that I should ALWAYS try to work fast.

I learned that it's okay to let little things go -- and NOT BE ANAL with the edits! (Keep the tone casual and not so academic. Watch out for overuse of commas.)

I learned just how VERY true it is that "two heads are better than one."

I learned how to keep my cool even when I'm cranky, tired and just overstressed.

I learned just how important to me this writing career is me and how important it is to be able to do this stuff (work on my books for a publisher).

I learned the importance of KEEPING THE FOCUS on the project at hand. So many times, my mind would wander, even when I was deep in a project. I would write other things, work on other books and research other projects. This would slow down what I was working on RIGHT NOW. I kept wondering if one publisher would be interested in a novel I have or if another publisher wanted a children's book manuscript I have. Then I just had to pull myself back to the present and just FOCUS. Work on the CURRENT project right now. Save those thoughts, those worries and those tasks for later. When I am working on THOSE books. Right now, I had to work on THIS one.

And as it is right now, I just MAY be working on another book! A lady I interviewed said she was looking for a writer to help her with a book and I said I was looking for just such a writing project to take on. We have been talking about working together but FIRST I'm keeping the focus on THIS book. And then, after all is said and done, the fopcus will be on the writing book. Then after that, who knows? I just may be working with her on her book, or challenging myself to write something else.

One book closes, another will open.

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