The Joy and Despair of Pressing Send

Katherine Longshore 2 Tuesday, July 02, 2013
You're finished!  It's ready!  You write the e-mail, add the attachment, move the cursor to "SEND" and...DONE!

It's a time for celebration, right?  Whether you're sending a query to an agent, replying to a request for a full, sending a draft of something new to critique partner/agent/editor, or sending in a revision, the answer is YES.  Celebrate.  This is a huge step--a milestone.  You finished a book, made a deadline.  You are taking the next step.  Break out the champagne, my friends.

I've been hitting "send" a lot in the past few months.  I have been on one deadline or another--or both at once--since I sent in a zero draft of Book 3 in November.  I think I have had one deadline every month.  Sometimes two.  That includes one full draft, one massive revision (OK, a rewrite--there's no escaping a first draft), four general revisions, two sets of line edits and one set of copy edits.

I know writers who budget their time.  They set a goal--a certain number of words or pages a day--and stick to it.  They give themselves a day or two to read and tweak before a deadline.  I know writers who  don't have time to budget it.  They just dive in and do.

I'm somewhere in between.  I want to budget my time.  And I do--for the first 2/3s of the edit or draft.  And then I run flat-out to the end.  Think running a marathon, but sprinting the last six miles.  Add to this a slightly OCD attention to detail and high standards (I once said to my editor something about my "inner perfectionist".  Inner? she replied.  I think she's on to me.)  It's a recipe for crazy.

So when I hit "send", I usually feel...breathless.  I tend to cringe and close my eyes, like a bomb is about to go off.  Then I sit there and stare until the little blue "wait" line disappears with that swooshing sound of an exiting e-mail.  (my manuscripts are long--it takes a while to send a file that big!)

Then I cry.  Not always visibly.  But there's a part of me that just wants to sit down and let a couple of tears appear.  It's not good enough.  My editor is going to hate it.  Did I get that character right?  Shoot--I don't even remember what I wrote in the last three chapters!

My most recent experience at hitting send compounded all these experiences.  I finished MANOR OF SECRETS back in May--copy edits and everything--so I only had one book to work on.  Book 3.  And my editor has been very relaxed about this deadline.  She said to me, "I want to give you as much time as you need to feel like you're happy with it."  So that "inner" perfectionist came out, cutting and trimming and changing words.  Tightening scenes and adding tension.  I love this stage.

And then I came to the troublesome end.  I'd written it three times, already.  Fast.  Always right before I hit send.  But this time around, I gave myself time.  Lots of it.  And I think I got it.

But when I hit send, I wanted to cry.  Not because it wasn't ready--I think it is.  Not because I was exhausted--though I think I must have been.  But because it's Book 3.  The end.  I still get to work through copy edits.  I can make changes if necessary.  But it's done.  This chapter of my life is teetering on the brink of being over.  What remains is the unknown.  After months of barely-controlled chaos but the solidity of deadlines, it's like stepping out into the vacuum of space.  The silence is terrifying.

My youngest insisted that we get a pink champagne cake.  The idea must have come up months ago--during one of those other times I hit "send" and someone suggested I celebrate but I didn't have time.  (We call this kid "Mr. Memory Man" for good reason).  So we got a cake.  We toasted success and completion.  The vacuum retreated to a little, cold space just to the west of my heart.

Hitting "send" deserves celebration.  And I'm so glad my wonderfully supportive family remembers that--even when I don't.  Hitting "send" is also turning the corner.  There is something out there--it's not a vacuum.  It's not stopping, it's moving on.  We just have to have the courage to find out what's next.


I've never felt despair when pressing SEND. Just terror. Usually it takes a pep talk to push the little button, and then, like you, I have to close my eyes.

Meep. Just thinking about it makes me all squirmy inside.

So yes! Celebrate! There is so much more in store for you, Katy!

Enjoyed this blog especially today--when I felt butterflies over just sending a completed draft to my writing coach. Thanks!

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers