It’s Not Just Meat that Needs to Marinate

Posted: June 20, 2013 in Writing

There comes a time when, as a writer you just need to leave your manuscript alone.  For many writers this means popping it into your bottom drawer (or your virtual dropbox) and leaving it to sit untouched.  I call this marinating.  Not because somehow my work improves by being alone.   But, because placing a little bit of space between me and it will allow me to be more objective about it in the hope that when I finally do revisit it, I may do so with fresh eyes and possibly even a fresh vision for its future.

There is a tonne of stuff out there suggesting how long one should leave a manuscript alone.  This may range from a couple of weeks, a few months or even many months.  I suspect that there is no right or wrong reason here.  Quite simply, it is different for every writer.  I plan to start with at least a fortnight and work from there.

I made the decision to set aside my manuscript a couple of days ago.  It was something that I felt a little sad about doing.  I enjoy my quiet time after the children are in bed when I sit with a cuppa and tap away at my computer.  However, I had reached the point in the editing process where I stopped seeing areas that needed revising.  I don’t doubt for a second they are there (probably hundred of improvements waiting for me).  I just can’t see them.  My mind is hiding them from me.

This is not to suggest that I am going on a “vacation” from writing for a while.  I keep going.  I have a bundle of micro-projects on the go….a pile of assignments to grade, a nappy bag to create for my sister’s new baby and a whole heap of ideas for new stories that I haven’t had the time to explore.  In truth, my manuscript is having a holiday too.  Perhaps it is not really marinating just yet.  I had it printed and bound yesterday and sealed it in an envelope ready to go off to a colleague for a serious round of beta-reading.  No doubt I will be busy in a few weeks time.  For now though, I’m sewing up a storm and getting ready to spend my quiet moments after 7pm marking my pile of assignments.  Who knows, by the time my manuscript comes back to me I might see the next round of revisions as welcome respite.

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