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.

Great.

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.”

About Kristin Miller

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Kristin Miller writes sweet and sassy contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance of all varieties. Kristin has degrees in psychology, English, and education, and taught high school and middle school English before crossing over to a career in writing. She lives in Northern California with her alpha male husband and their two children. You can usually find her in the corner of a coffee shop, laptop in front of her and mocha in hand, using the guests around her as fuel for her next book. Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorKristinMiller Twitter: www.twitter.com/kristinmiller02 Web: www.kristinmiller.net

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Ha! I know about the glaring errors! The ones that slip past everyone and that you don’t find until final copy edits – like the one I found where the hero was having a great conversation with the heroine…while he was unconscious and in surgery. Oops. The killer is that this error is IN the bound ARCs. Reviewers must have thought I was out of my damned mind. I hope you got every last niggly little error. And best of luck to your son on that being 38 for Halloween next year…unless he’s 37 *this* year. 😀

    • You know, sometimes plot holes like that are easily skipped over. As long as the readers are “in” the story, they might not notice…but they sure as heck bug the writer when they discover them! I know how it feels! I actually had a moment like that in Vamped Up, when I realized my villain and hero *knew* each other in Intervamption…yet it was crucial to my plot (300 pages in) that they *didn’t* know each other. Yeah, don’t know how that one got by. As you can imagine, there were tons of rewrites. Glad you discovered the problem by the time it went to print, though! 🙂

  2. This is such a timely post! I was up to midnight last night reading through my novella through one-more-time before sending the copy edits back to NY. Eeesh! The world is blury today. Congrats on getting yours in. 🙂

  3. Your son’s Halloween costume idea cracks me up. And yes, stores rush you through the holidays. I don’t understand it. I’m not thinking about Christmas in October. I’m thinking “what if it snows this year? Wouldn’t that be awesome??” and I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and if the Saints will go to the Super Bowl. Christmas doesn’t appear in my thoughts until the end of November and then I’m like “oops, I should start shopping, guess I should hit the online stores!” It bothers me to see Christmas decorations and gift sets out so early, like they’re pressuring me to be in a holiday mood when it isn’t time for it! *sniff*

  4. So glad your edits are all done!! Congrats to you! And I love your not rushing advice. I will try to follow your example! 🙂

  5. Copy Edits! I do the backward reading thing too. Congrats on getting them done. And when I see Christmas stuff mid-October I shake my head as well.

  6. Wow! You mean I’m not the only nut who reads their work in reverse?!? We are kismet, you and me. 😉

  7. Totally get what you’re saying! I was in Hallmark yesterday b/c I love to get all the Halloween leftovers on sale (they always slash prices and it’s usually really cute stuff) and the store looked like it had thrown up Christmas. Freaking ridiculous. Seriously, what happened to poor Thanksgiving, lol. Congrats on getting your edits done!

    • Thanks, Katie! To be honest, I think the biggest reason I get so upset about the Christmas rush is because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This year everyone seemed to jump from Halloween to Christmas like the “giving thanks” part of the year didn’t even exist. Well, I’m gonna make it exist, damn it!! I’m not putting up a single Christmas decoration until December 1st!! Who’s with me?!?

      :crickets:

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