by Telena Tanara Contreras
The Arizona summer is an early arriver. In late March a dry breeze descends on the valley to give spring its notice; and a mere month later Queen Summer herself follows behind a procession of scorching rays, ridiculous temperatures, and dramatic dust storms to begin her ruthless reign.
Come May, the people are done.
Snow birds lock up their homes, cover their pools, and head back north or east or wherever it is sane people run to when the weather is more foe than friend. The frugal adopt a beans-and-rice budget in order to crank up the air in homes where they will become hermits for the next five months. All projects that were started with fervor melt into burdens the initiator wishes would simply go away.
My first novel has hit that summer season.
It’s done, and has been for quite some time now. When I first finished it-before I knew anything about the publishing world-I took it to a conference sans edits and put out feelers. My feedback was favorable (the feedback I did get) but I was made aware of the need to do some editing.
After reading a few books on writing, like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King (and feeling appropriately horrified that my first draft was ever let out of its cage), I decided to put the novel through a rigorous edit-walkaway-read program until it was as good as I could get it.
I’ve since cut and added chapters, fixed point of view, (moved on to the next book), beefed up setting, chopped narration, (plotted four more books), strengthened conflict, deepened characterization (wait, we’re still working on that one).
Needless to say, summer is on the throne in the world where my first novel exists. Though I dubbed my last edit the final draft, the need to re-read it one last time whooshes over me like a dry gale. The knowledge that I will most likely find something else to tweak-especially since I’m still reading writing books and constantly learning more-saps my strength and leaves me parched.
The temptation is there to move on and pour all of my energy into book two and the other projects fueling my enthusiasm. After all, don’t some of the best in this business have one, or two, or even five novels that have never seen the light of day?
But deep down I know that’s the oppression of the summer season whispering to me. The book has been given diligent attention-been tuned with skill and precision-but I haven’t given it its chance.
Some books may never be publish worthy, but that can’t be known for sure if they’ve been retired before their season. Unless they’ve weathered pitches and submissions, edits based on feedback, and, yes, sufficient rejections, then summer will have to wait its turn.
Because the story the dry season is trying to burn, may be the tale with the richest fruit.
Telena Tanara Contreras is a writer of Contemporary Women’s Fiction with romance and suspense elements. She is a member of ACFW, CWG, and CWOW, and a contributing author to Thriving Family. She lives in Arizona with her family and is currently writing her second novel. Visit her website at www.tanaramccauley.com.