Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Manuscripts ... and a surprising lack of theme music

You know that moment in the movie Little Women when Jo finally finishes her manuscript? The one when she ties the papers together with string and tucks a crimson flower under the bow?

I did not have that moment.

I spent my moment in the foyer of the Post Office...
pulling apart a shopping bag...
so I could use the brown paper to wrap the box...
that held the manuscript...
that I had to mail to Harold Underdown.

It's been a crazy few days. School starts next week, and I am up to my eyes in planning Algebra.

Was my manuscript lying lovely and pristine, all printed up, waiting to be mailed out and begin its life with my mentor in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program?

Oh no. I'd just gotten back from Chautauqua. So of course, I kept revising and patching and and putting in completely new parts. I still haven't done as much revision as I would have liked on this MS. It's a complete read, but it's not a good one yet, especially the last third. That really bothers me- never mind that this whole program is about, you know, REVISION.

So when I got the word that it was time to mail the MS, I had some cleaning up to do that kept me up till the wee sma's.

I finished the cleanup today after work. I searched my MS for ???. (That's my placeholder for when I can't find the right word or for names I have yet to choose.) Then I replaced each ??? with a word, any word. I felt like that little Dutch boy plugging the leaky dike.

Off to Kinkos. Ten minutes later, I had the full MS in a box. I then grabbed an excedingly dull pair of store scissors and began hacking at the box so that there wouldn't be two inches of clearance between the papers and the top of the box.

Across the parking lot to the Post Office. They have an automated mailing machine that looks like something out of the Jetsons. I needed to wrap the box, hence the wrestling match with the brown paper shopping bag.

About the time that I centered the lopsided Kinko's box on the ragged brown paper, I thought of Jo and her flower. I also wondered whether it was horribly disrespectful to Mr. Underdown to send a MS in brown paper that hadn't even been cut with scissors.*

Suffice to say, there was no moving theme music.

But here's the truth. It was still pretty amazing. I've never seen my entire MS printed out. I've never mailed it to someone who wanted to read it. Do you know how cool it was to write "Harold Underdown, New York, New York" on that brown paper package?

I don't think there will be much theme music or flowers in my writing career. I foresee a lot of scrambling and a lot of chaos.

You know what? I'm good with that. I think most of us who write are.

So ... I'd love to hear about your writing moments. What are they like?

*I did fold down the edges, though, so it shouldn't look too bad.


Michelle said...

Mine was more of a montage than a moment. First my printer ran out of ink. I considered my options: drive the half hour into town to get ink, go to the library to print, or just wait and print tomorrow?

Since I had to go to the library anyway, I chose that. I went into work early with my laptop. I couldn't get the wireless printing to work. But this time, unlike in Chautauqua, I was prepared. I had a flash drive. I printed from my desktop at work and all was well.

The hilarious moment came later. Our IT guy was in the branch, so I asked him for help with the wireless printing. He suggested we look at it together, so we'd all know what to do next time. The error message came up saying, "Please ask a staff member for assistance." Five staff members, including our computer guy were all gathered around, staring at the screen, not knowing what to do next!

Sarah said...

I love the image of everyone trying to figure out how to make the wireless printing work.

You told us part of your adventure last night, but it still makes me chuckle. : )

Anonymous said...

super duper double-whooper proud of u sarah=) ms rocks, even imperfect!

Sarah said...

Thanks, Dora!