Breathe

The Dreamt Child - a novel by Yvonne HertzbergerThe goal was to have my book out to my beta readers by this week. In order to get there I had to cut down on some of my other commitments, but I made it. Two wonderful people already have their copies and I hope the other two will arrive in the next day or two so I can hand them over.

Putting “The End” to that first draft gave me some mixed reactions. Since this book will be the final installment of a trilogy, this milestone brought some surprising emotions. We spend so much time struggling to type those two words. Then, when it finally comes, we expect to be elated, to feel a sense of accomplishment, relief and even euphoria. At least I did.

The hard part is supposed to be over, right? Sure, there are revisions to make and endless rounds of editing but the story is complete. So why are those expected feelings so fleeting, or missing altogether? They were there when I completed the first book. What changed?

At first I thought I might be experiencing a reluctance to let go of my world, my characters and my story. And there is some of that, I agree. But there is much more to it.

Like many of us, I am a perfectionist. Like all of us, I am anything but perfect. Hence, the problem. My drive for perfection makes it imperative that each book I write be better than the last—better story, better character development, better sentence structure, better … well you get the picture.

So here I sit. I wait. Yes, there are other bits to work on, important bits like back cover blurb, synopsis, cover and preparations for promotion and launch. But this is a self-imposed purgatory – a waiting period – while I bite my nails waiting for the feedback from those four to whom I have entrusted my baby. These are folks who love books, not me, who know about writing, not merely enjoy a tale. Their responses will, of course, send me back to my keyboard for further revisions, but there is more to it than that. I will hear from them whether this book is up to snuff, whether it is better than the last two. Good isn’t good enough; the perfectionist in me demands that it be better.

On the other hand, I try to take myself in hand, give myself a good shake by the shoulders (hard to picture isn’t it?) and tell myself that this is not the end product. It’s a stepping stone to that end, but I have time and opportunity to improve the book based on what these four tell me.

The next three weeks I have some time on my hands. I will be away on holiday for one of those weeks. But what about the other two? And where will my mind be even while I am away?

Breathe, Yvonne. Trust the process. Trust yourself and your skill. Trust the bits of critique and feedback you have been given to date. Breathe. Enjoy this break. Yeah, right.

Then it’s back to the drawing board for another round or two before it goes to my editor for the final stage. At the last, it will be up to fans and readers.

Author: Yvonne Hertzberger

Yvonne Hertzberger is a native of the Netherlands who immigrated to Canada in 1950. She is an alumna of The University of Waterloo, with degrees in psychology and Sociology. Her Fantasy trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received. Learn more about Yvonne at her blog and her Amazon author page.

31 thoughts on “Breathe”

  1. “Good isn’t good enough” — You have summed up this process that never ends, even when the story does. But you do deserve a big, deep breath! Enjoy your holiday!

  2. I know that feeling Yvonne, but I hope that by now you know that all the work and effort has paid off. 🙂 Once you finally put your baby to bed it will be time to start thinking about the next story. Congratulations on finishing the trilogy. 🙂

  3. I quote you, “Breathe, Yvonne. Trust the process. Trust yourself and your skill. Trust the bits of critique and feedback you have been given to date. Breathe. Enjoy this break. Yeah, right.”

    I enjoyed your two other books very much and am looking forward to this one, but I do understand – I could tell that the hardest thing for you was to say, “The End!”, when your trilogy was finished. In fact, you avoided saying it again throughout your posting, after that first mention of the dreaded final three words.

    Take your own advice, “Breathe, Yvonne.” When I reviewed your first two books I told you how much I enjoyed being sucked into your story. I know from the quality show in the other two that this one will be the best.

    “Breathe, Yvonne!”

  4. The relief of finishing the final draft is incredible for me. I do look forward to the real work of rewriting, editing and refining. There’s nothing harder than creation … chipping away at it afterwards seems easy by comparison. Ahhh … take a deserved break, Yvonne. We can relate to how hard you’ve worked.

    1. Thank you, Rosanne. I expect the beta feedback in the next week or two – then it’ll be another edit before going to my editor. It’s odd that this third one has me more nervous that the first two – or is it?

  5. I don’t think you’ll feel that euphoria until it’s finally done and out there in the world. You know that you’re going to get beta reader feedback and have more changes to make so that’s in the back of your mind.

    But, I say enjoy your holiday, and definitely relax and breathe. If you’re well rested you’ll have more gusto tackling the book when it comes back from betas.

  6. Rest between the rounds, Yvonne, you’re becoming an experienced writer now; experienced writers, like experienced fighters, learn to take their breathers when they can.

    You are a stayer, Yvonne and stayers are winners.

  7. And may I say, HUGE congratulations, Yvonne! You’ve finished the TRILOGY! Outstanding 🙂

    I so understand the waiting bit…my mother (a visual artist) always tells me to start another project while I wait, otherwise I have a tendency to over think and second guess. For me, it can be a short story or even a blog post or five. Often, it’s the next book I’ve been dying to write.

    Perfectionism: the gift that keeps on giving.

    1. Thanks, Dv. I agree with the ‘next project’ theory. And I have the kernel of an idea for the next book – but I think it will be a stand alone. If I didn’t have that to think about now I might be going crazy waiting for my beta feedback.

  8. Yvonne, I can completely relate to the absence of euphoria when you wrote, “The End.” When I finished my spiritual fantasy, Goddess Rising, I felt as if I was leaving treasured friends for the last time, and it was wrenching. I cried. Luckily I realized that I could go back and “visit” them anytime I chose, just by picking up the book again. With my latest, Stone’s Ghost, I did actually feel that euphoria, just because I’d been struggling with the end and when I finally got it–it finally clicked and was exactly what it needed to be–I was ecstatic. It’s funny how different novels can evoke different emotions from us, isn’t it? But that’s just all part of the fun.

    1. Isn’t it interesting how we not only react differently from each other, we also so so with each book we write? While I know that the quality of my writing has improved over time, it is still my first book that I love most.

      And I loved Stone’s Ghost.

  9. Great post, Yvonne. I think there’s always some fear, even if you’re sure you did your best, that your betas will eviscerate your latest project. Unfortunately, the only cure for those nerves is time.

    Looking forward to reading The Dreamt Child. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lynne. You’re right. That’s especially so when you don’t feel particularly enamored of the ms. But just this morning the second beta told me not to worry (though she’s not quite finished) and the first loved it. Two more to go but I’m a little less apprehensive already.

      I hope I don’t disappoint you. 🙂

  10. I hate writing ‘The End’. I feel like I am losing a friend. Then the feeling is soon replaced by one of achievement. I wish you every success possible with this latest book. Congratulations!
    By the way, that muse will soon hit you again so be ready to take another deep breathe.

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