Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

On Rushing

Back in the long ago, shortly after I started this blog, I made a vow: I wouldn’t be that guy. You know the type—the one that, after he gets the agent, is constantly playing The Agent card. Kind of like this:

I haven’t had an agent very long, and I’ve done fairly well, so far, but once in a while, I’m going to have to do it. This weekend, I completed another set of revisions on the project still being known as BARTON’S WOMEN and sent them back to Carrie. When I opened up her latest marked up version, I sped through it, to get a sense of how many suggested changes or comments there were—there weren’t. And, at the risk of divulging too much, Carrie’s cover e-mail indicated that we would pretty soon be ready to start the next step, the submission process.
Now, let me tell you, the temptation was strong to just go and answer the one comment she had put in the MS, save it, and send it back. Submission time, woot woot! But I remembered advice I had given a week or two before to someone on Absolute Write: this person had completed a draft and was trying to give it a month or two of resting time, but…but they were worried someone else might have the idea, they were tempted to polish it now, etc., etc. My advice: DON’T. RUSH. Just like that, two sentence fragments, all caps. Thinking of that, I spent most of all day Saturday and Sunday going through the manuscript, and I’m glad I did. In addition to finding some typos that Carrie and I both missed, I found some other silly mistakes—missing periods, double periods, missing and extra words. I also cleaned up an inconsistency I had as to whether one of my characters had a brother and two sisters, or one each, and made some further fine tuning throughout. Odds are, none of these things would have been cause for rejection by an editor, but it’s up to us to send out the best possible product we can.
The temptation to rush is even greater when one is near a major milestone, just as one sometimes rushes when they near the end of a long journey. I’m reminded of the fact that most car accidents reportedly occur within 3 miles of home. While this is likely due to the fact that most driving is probably done within 3 miles of home, I expect a good part of it is either due to being too comfortable on that familiar ground, or because of the “Hurry up, I need to use the bathroom” (or kickoff, or Project Runway) factor. I didn’t want to rush and miss something important. I didn’t want to be a statistic. Take time with your projects, friends, that’s the best thing to do.


On a sad note, I saw in my blog feeder last night that author/blogger Cynthia Chapman Willis passed away earlier in the month following a long fight with lung cancer. I didn’t know Cynthia, except through our respective blogs, but she always struck me as a positive individual. I always enjoyed her posts, and the personal way she interacted with everyone who stopped by her blog. Condolences to her friends and family.

11 Responses

  1. Oh, sad about Cynthia. I have visited her blog in the past. My heart goes out to her family.

    As for your good news, being a fly on the wall as you work through your journey can really pay off with all the information we glean from other writers. So much better to take it just a little slower and get it as clean as possible.

  2. You always want to rush when you see the end in sight, that's for sure. Even when I've read my book so many times I'd lost count, I re-read the galley OUT LOUD just to make sure my editor and I didn't miss anything. And you know what? We did! Heck, I bet there are still mistakes in that thing, but at least I know they are minor.

    Good luck on your submissions. Try not to obsess too much (haha–easier said than done, I know!). To help, just start writing another book. That'll distract you! 🙂

  3. You worked hard to get that agent. Don't worry about playing the card whenever you want!

    My agent and I revised for 7 months! It was totally worth it when that offer came in. Everything crossed for you when you go out on submission.

  4. -Donna–Well, I figure if I can help in any way, however small, why not?

    -Stacy–Another book–just what I need! And I can't believe the stuff we missed, though we've both been over it so much. There's always something trying to slip through.


    L.G.–Thank you very much!

  5. Good call, Jeff! I always hate reading my manuscripts for the umpteenth time, but I'm always relieved afterward—either because I found an error or I didn't. 🙂

  6. Oh No! I missed that about Cynthia! I was just recommending her book to a student yesterday. So sad 🙁

    Taking time is SO important. So many people rush and ruin. Good luck with the next step! 🙂

  7. This is why I hate working to a deadline with my creative assignments at university, sometimes I just feel they would be better if I could take my time writing and revising them, instead of having to do them and everything else NOW! It's good that you chose to take your time with the revisions Jeff. Good luck moving on to the next step! 🙂

  8. You absolutely do not want to rush but it is SO hard!!!! So very hard. I'm so sad to hear about Cynthia. I didn't know her well but based on my limited interactions with her over the years in the blogosphere, she was very lovely. My prayers go out to her family.

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