If you’ve been working on the same book (concept, manuscript, idea) for MORE than three months I’m here to tell you to MOVE ON and ‘stop petting the kitty’.
Petting the Kitty is a metaphor for continuing to edit your first couple of chapters as opposed to moving on and FINISHING your story. We almost always know what happens in the beginning of our story. This is the part that comes to us as a thunderbolt. It’s the genesis of our most brilliant idea ever. We love it! And it makes us feel good to keep working on it and working on it, making it the very best first 1-5 chapters ever. (aka Petting the Kitty.)
But continuing to pet the kitty can actually hinder you from FINISHING your book because you will never love Act 2 the same way you love the amazingly brilliant idea that caused you to fall in love with Act 1 in the first place. Once you push through to act 2, you need to keep going to act 3. If you’re lucky you will wade hip-deep through conflict, tension, abandonment and hopefully resolution. It will be tough and make you sweat but you can’t possibly get to THE END without all that. And there is no doubt that you will need to go back through your book and do it again and maybe even again in order to make the whole book the very best it can possibly be.
It’s conference season and that means preparing submissions for critiques with pros. Critiques which look at the first 10 – 20 pages of a manuscript. So forward motion on projects is halted while everyone polishes the first couple of chapters. This is fine, go ahead and spend a finite amount of time cleaning up your submission… but then MOVE ON. Work through it and finish your book.
If you want to read a great (and funny) blog post about the different stages of manuscript LOVE… check out one of my favorite blog posts by Libba Bray