Twilight is sometimes the best time to see

Forty-five weeks after the second day of the new year

As Author has told you in her post forty-three weeks after the second day of the new year, she is preparing the print format of her next book for you in Indesign. Interestingly, there’s a calmness to what Author is doing, sitting for hours in front of her laptop, her eyes on the screen, her manuscript slowly but steadily being organized into spreads, into what is already beginning to resemble what will eventually be a paperback. But that calmness doesn’t mean Author is letting her guard down, and neither should you. It might surprise you, but you just might reach this step and realize that there are still changes to be made in your manuscript, and not typos that need correcting but more substantial changes.

But why would you see these changes now, toward the end of your work on your book? Why not in your previous reviews of your manuscript? Well, it makes sense, if you think about it. As far as you’re concerned your writing is done, you don’t expect to make essential changes anymore. What’s ahead for you is the technical work. And so your mind calms, and you are free to see things you wouldn’t see otherwise. If there is something that is still amiss in your manuscript, now you will see it.

Think of this specific place in your work on your book, this unique seam between purely creative and almost purely technical, like a twilight, the time in the day when the light has shadows in it in which everything looks different than in full light. In these shadows, this half-light, you see different details of what’s before you. In this look at your manuscript, this is where the more elusive discrepancies—in consistency, continuity or clarity—come to the fore, and you can see them. A sentence said by a character that is missing a later reference to, or perhaps it opens a minor subplot that you have forgotten to close. Perhaps an event that happened or something a character did doesn’t quite fit in the specific place it is in, or maybe a technical point you’re trying to make suddenly doesn’t look as clear as you thought it was.

Don’t worry about not having seen these discrepancies earlier: you couldn’t for a reason. You mind was occupied with other no less important changes that had to be made in your story. And those were made in full light, where your mind was hard at its creative work, tense and preoccupied. They were made among other aspects of the writing that kept your mind busy—perhaps you were still looking at grammar at the time, or were considering changing the name of a character or replacing a location or adding another twist to your plot. Or maybe you still had background research to complete. But these are all done now. Now you can see what’s under them, what’s hidden in the shadows. This is where you will discern what you’ve missed, at this specific point between creative and technical, between writing and formatting.

When this is done, when the shadows are clear, you will have your manuscript where you want it to be. A small note, though: don’t be surprised if a year, two, five after you’ve written a book you will go back to it and see things you think you should have done differently. You might look at it and say, this I am pleased with, but this I would have written better, and this I hadn’t thought of at the time. You are and will always be that story’s writer. But you will advance, gain experience, a more critical eye for your past work, while that story and the way you have written it will remain frozen as it was on its publication day. So don’t worry about feeling this way about it. All it will show is that you’ve progressed as a writer. That’s good. And the thing about continuing to write is, you can always apply lessons learned in your next book.

And one more point: this ability to see what you’ve missed takes on a new significance if writing isn’t the only work you do. If you have another job or otherwise lead a busy life and have a lot on your mind, you just might have been getting to your manuscript tired or distracted during your work on it. A place in your work process where you are most likely to see any blemishes remaining in your manuscript is, in that case, even more important.

It seems that this post has become in its entirety a tip. So all that’s left for Author to do is emphasize: find your twilight, that point in which you are able to see into the shadows, to find what you have otherwise missed.

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