What’s the Rush?
I like the holidays as much as the next person. Come December, my house is decked in green and red with a giant tree and an angel on top. I usually get my Christmas shopping done by the first of the merry month, but that’s only because I don’t do well in crowds. (Ever seen one of those panicked mama’s the day before Christmas elbowing an elf to get to the last present? Yeah, if I allowed myself to procrastinate, that’d be me. Jailed for punching Santa in his ruddy face.)
But this year feels…different. Everyone is rushing toward Christmas faster than ever before. In my local box stores, the Halloween decorations were on aisle 10 and the Christmas ones on aisle 11. People were buying ghosts and goblins, pumpkins and—Oh, don’t forget—Christmas lights and an angel for the tree!
What happened to cherishing each day? Each season?
What happened to spookin’ it up on Halloween, giving thanks in November, then sliding into the holiday season feeling relaxed and ready? I think stores see dollar signs in putting out their holiday stock early. I think people believe that if they stretch the ever-stressful season out another month, it won’t feel so stressful. I think they’re wrong; that it actually makes the stressful holiday season even more so, but hey, maybe that’s just me.
The tendency to rush can be applied to the writing world, too.
I got copyedits back on Vamped Up, Book 2 in the Vampires of Crimson Bay Series, Thursday of last week…along with a note reading They’re Due Back Monday.
Ever read a four hundred page book Halloween weekend? I mean really read it, weeding out all those pesky little errors, smoothing the flow, adding a few key elements to certain scenes? I wouldn’t recommend it. (I was seeing four trick-or-treaters when there were two.)
It would’ve been easy to rush through the first pass of my manuscript. Take the notes my copyeditor gave as golden. Send it back Monday morning saying it was perfect! It would’ve been easy to think Hey, I’ve read this sucker three times already, my two critique partners have combed through it, my editor and now the copyeditor have read it too. There can’t possibly be any more errors!
I would’ve been wrong.
I took my time through the first pass. I found errors. GLARING errors. (Probably like some that are in this post.) I even found errors my copyeditor added—and she’s, like, a Pro and really awesome at what she does! I found choppy wording choices. (How’d “had had” sneak in there?!?) Sunday morning came fast. I could’ve rushed things and sent it over.
But I didn’t.
I read the entire manuscript over again. Backwards. I stayed up until one in the morning, until the coffee ran out and my head hit the desk. And you wouldn’t believe it, but I STILL found a couple punctuation errors (like two quotations marks back to back and a comma and a period mashed together).
There’s a point to this epic post, I promise.
Don’t rush things. Don’t wish for the holiday season when Thanksgiving is still a month away. It’ll come in due time, and then it’ll be gone. Cherish the time you have now with the people in your life. Don’t rush through your work. Give it the time it—and your readers—deserve. I think we have a tendency to rush through our lives, pushing from one exciting moment to the next. What we have to remember is that the moments we’re skipping through can be the most cherished if we slow down and let them. Someday I’ll miss having a deadline, and editing, and pushing myself in this creative–and really damn difficult–way.
Final thought: When I asked my four year old son what he wanted to be next year for Halloween, he said, “Thirty-eight.”