Steering Clear of Quicksand

Monday, 19 March 2012

Ok, I admit it. I was rather tempted to skip tonight’s post. Not because I am overly tired (although I do feel I could sleep for a week) or because I have too much else to do (the to-do list actually looks pretty good for a change), but because I have finally decided to delve deep into my Harlequin American Romance WIP and see where it takes me.
Last night I nearly became a widow—by my own hands. I was half dead from the five mile plus walk my hubby decided to take me on for Mother’s Day (actually it was just a family walk, he forgot it was Mother’s Day until we came upon a packed restaurant running specials for moms). I climbed in bed early and fell peacefully asleep after my nightly fizzy paracetamol (I may be developing an addiction to those, but that’s another story for another time). And I would’ve stayed blissfully asleep if he hadn’t come in and woken me to ask if there was any room on my side of the bed. Please! The bed is small to start and I am eight months pregnant—no, there isn’t any room!
Once I’ve been woke its over for me. I lay awake from about 11pm to 2am. I tried everything—milk, reading a particularly dull chapter of a textbook, hell I even counted sheep—and nothing worked. In the end I don’t remember how it happened. I do remember sometime before drifting off that I had a read through of my WIP chapter one (I swear that wasn’t what finally put me to sleep, if it was I would not be writing about it now). Reading through that first chapter sparked a need to get back to it. I’ve been looking for a chance to sit down with it and not being able to get back to sleep gave me just that (so maybe I won’t kill my hubby… just yet).
I was surprised at how much of the chapter I now wanted to change/adjust. I try not to edit as I go along, but my first three chapters had been polished in hopes of entering a pitch contest last year (which never was held). Now, I’m glad it wasn’t held as I can see so much that I’d like to mend before putting it out there. It is my intention to stay awake long enough tonight to make notes on what needs tweaking. I may not get to tweak tonight (I really am beat), but I hope to at least have another read through and jot some bits down.
I plan to have a look through the bits that I have written only to bring them in line with the slightly new direction the story is going to take, but I’ll try not to get caught up in editing, so much so that I get stuck and can’t escape to move on with the story. It’s like quicksand, I know, but I am confident I can stay out of too much trouble. The thing is, revisiting this chapter, which I was so certain was perfect and finding bits I’m not sure about has left me a little scared.
How do you know when you truly are finished editing? How do you keep from sinking in? How do you know when it is time to just let the manuscript go?

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