Monday, September 9, 2019

The Earth is an M&M: Advice When You Are Close to Finishing Your Manuscript by Peter Leavell

You’ve been writing your first work like a crazy woman or a madman, and suddenly, you wonder what happens next.

Doubt in your writing is like cruising your bike along a trail and someone shoving an iron rod through the spokes. Or thinking the earth is a giant Peanut M&M and you dig a hole through the candy shell and chocolate layer to arrive at the center of the earth and find a giant, overcooked chickpea. You’re thrown off-track, and things aren’t quite like what you’d thought they’d be.
M&Ms on Abbey Road: Commons

You think your work is good and has excellent potential for publication. But what will everyone else think?

There’s so much to consider. Experienced writers, when asked for advice, are put in an extremely difficult position. There’s a small element of an oracle about it, reading the future and prophesy.

Yet, here are the considerations I contemplated before I looked up from my work and saw I was an award-winning author.

Remember, you’re critically analyzing your situation, which means each point is a different angle. Don’t just pick one point to run with. Instead, think through your situation from the top, sides, bottom, and inside out.

Top—Empirical evidence. This is raw data from agents and editors. What are they saying about the work? If they’re saying it’s not ready, or there’s no slot for it, it' a strong indication the manuscript needs some rework or there truly is no slot for it at this time. As much as editors want to do the opposite, most must make business decisions, not artistic decisions.

Bottom—Emotions. If you’re sick of this project and it’s finished with all the rewrites, has been sent to everyone under the sun, and ability to write is strangled, then the project no longer has wings. It’s time to set it aside. Never throw it away, because you don’t know what the future holds. But passion is an important element in writing.

Sides—State of the manuscript. If you don’t feel like it’s ready, don’t stop. At the very least, this is great practice in finishing a full piece. Go all the way. Make sure it’s completely edited and ready for publication. Then you have an important decision. Self-publish? If self-publishing is not your cup of orange juice, then write another manuscript with less pulp—different from your first work.

Inside Out—Consider changing your mentality. You’re not actually writing books, but instead you’re training to become an author, and one of these days, one of your manuscripts will stick.

This is all humanistic advice, without the input of what you feel God wants you to do. But these considerations are a start in knowing what you will do next. And someday, I hope you find yourself on a planet that truly is a Peanut M&M, and all your dreams come true.

The Earth is an M&M: Advice When You Are Close to Finishing Your Manuscript by @peterleavell #writerslife #seriouslywrite

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at