Taking the Book Out of the Oven

As difficult as it was to find the first few words of the book Shoulder Season, it was even more difficult to know when to stop writing. To set down the writing of Shoulder Season and call it done.

The book writing process is a new one for me, and I have been learning by instinct. I initially wanted to fast track the final product, and “not belabor it.” That’s easier said than done. My first final draft was completed months before I published it—I thought I only had some minor tweaking to do. But when I distanced myself from it for a few weeks, and asked my daughter and husband to read it, I saw things I previously couldn’t see. Run on sentences. Overused words and phrases. A badly constructed few chapters introducing the story.

While spending a month in Vietnam with my daughter’s family, I read some good books; books with developed minor characters that had names and stories. There were so many things I hadn’t considered. For instance, why did I feel the need to use the words “I thought” so many times in my first person dialogue. Of course the character “thought” everything in the book, it was all written from her perspective. And oh, the adverbs!

I soon realized that writing a book is rewriting and self-editing to infinity and beyond. I’ve been doing this for decades in advertising, but never for such a large and personal document. At last I decided that enough was enough, and it was time to pull the trigger. And then I found a typo. Oops.

I will probably always see an extra comma that I should have taken out, or a pet phrase that I used one too many times (stopped me in my tracks). But maybe that’s always the case, what do you think? I remember learning about the Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns in Econ 101—so I know that at a certain point, your efforts stop paying off. And while I may have been able to make this first story incrementally better with more time, I feel like I knew when it was time to move on, and tell you another Lake Michigan Lodge Story instead. 

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