Work in Progress #25: How I Got Myself to Send My Emily Post Biography to My Agent After 4 Years of Work!

Emily Post YoungThe first step in my revision process was to print out the manuscript and read it through from beginning to end making big-picture comments in the margins like “painfully slow here” or “Where exactly are you going???” or the old standby “awk” (for awkward). I wouldn’t let myself stop for typos or to make small changes in word choices or sentence structure. That would come later. I just wanted to respond as a reader to my own writing.

When I came to the end of that fast run-through, I had a sense of where to go from there.  Some of my earlier work (see “Work in Progress #18“) had paid off in spades. Minor players didn’t seem to be dropping out the sky with no warning and the historical themes I wanted to be percolating in the background of Emily’s life (immigration, women’s issues, the American Dream, class warfare in a democracy) were present and accounted for.  Chapter 1, on the other hand, was an absolute disaster despite the fact that I had agonized over it on the first writing and then revised it repeatedly as I’d worked my way through the rest of the book.

I decided to put Chapter 1 aside and spent the next few days working on the rest of the book. On a Tuesday evening, I realized that the next day was completely free: no appointments or meetings were on my calendar. Such days don’t come often. I woke on Wednesday morning, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down at my desk, still in my pajamas. I tore into that pesky first chapter deleting piles of words. Where do all those deleted words go? Maybe I could gather a group of writers and we could put together a sort of word quilt out of our collective writing scraps. Youre stalling! Get back to work!

I finished Chapter 1 and made another pass through the rest of the manuscript, cleaning up grammar and typos. After several more reads, I felt amazingly satisfied with my book…happy even. I began to think I was ready to send it to my agent. I had to digest this thought. After some four years of work, I might be ready to hit the “send” button. It was a completely startling idea that seemed to have sneaked up on me while I wasn’t looking.  I thought about it some more. Then I hit “send.”

When I glanced at the clock, it was three in the afternoon and I was still in my pajamas. I took a shower and decided it would be silly to get dressed so late in the day. So I put on a clean pair of pajamas and spent the rest of the evening a little dazed, not knowing quite what to do with myself.

I scratched a note on my to-do list for Thursday: GET DRESSED!

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Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge, Author

Connie Nordhielm WooldridgeBiography | View

Speaker / Presenter

Connie is an experienced speaker and presenter who enjoys sharing her passion for writing and her experience as a writer with readers and writers of all ages. She has presented to students, community, civic and professional organizations, writing groups, library audiences, and seniors – wherever book lovers gather!
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