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  • Writer's pictureSheila R. Lamb

Put It Away

Writers, agents and editors frequently advise new writers to put their supposed completed manuscript away for several weeks or even months. Don’t look at it. Don’t touch it. Do something else. Write a new book. Bake cookies. Create a garden.

I thought I had taken that advice. I could put one manuscript down for a few days and work on the other. I’d alternate back and forth. Post a few chapters on the critique site…then let it go.

No, no, no,no.

For various reasons (well, really one major reason) I did not look at either manuscript for six full months. Did not look. Did not touch. Did not post for my critiquers. Six months.

A few weeks ago, I dug them up. Like an archaeologist, I evaluated the context of my computer, my jump drive, and thought “I wonder where those manuscripts could be?” Carefully, I unearthed each section, each folder and file.

Dusty files came to light. I opened each one, slowly, full of trepedation…and breathed a sigh of – what? I actually SENT this first chapter out in a query six months ago??!! Typos had reproduced during their time in hiding. Chapters jumbled themselves up again.

I sat back, shocked that I had once believed these manuscripts were polished, a little embarrassed that I might meet one of these agents at a future conference. Please, please let them forget my name.

I skimmed through the first chapter again. Not bad. Actually pretty good. Typos existed…but the plot, storyline and characters carried me away and I forgot that I was reading my own work. I sighed in relief. It is time to polish.

For how long did you put your work away?

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