Thursday, October 27, 2011

Come again?

“Steady by jerks”
I always thought that phrase was pretty well known - until I moved to the city and had to explain what it meant pretty much every time I used it. Maybe it’s a local colloquialism or maybe I transplanted myself into the one pocket of humanity that had never heard it.
So I Googled the phrase and although I found others who used it, I was unable to find a definition. So here’s an example:
Consider landscaping—you work like crazy in the yard until weather runs you indoors, and a week later you go back out and work on it until the weather changes again. You’re making steady progress but in jerky rhythm. Like Elaine dancing on Seinfeld.
I kept thinking I’d get into a routine after I moved to the country. I’d sit down every day and work on it, even if it was only 10 minutes at a time, I’d chip away and get it done. (Larry and I agreed from the beginning that I would do the revising, so I can’t even share the blame!)
          Instead, it’s been accomplished steady by jerks. I’d have a chunk of time and work like crazy for three hours then put it away for a couple weeks. Then I’d work like crazy for a couple hours and put it away for a week.
          Yesterday I had a block of time and put in the last few hours of revising (woo hoo!) and sent it out to our next wave of readers. I’m feeling really good about the manuscript, and considering what it’s been through, we really should. Here’s how our steady-by-jerking has gone so far (with a few steps to go):

1)         Write the book
2)         Discuss the book, agree on what to change
3)         Revise the book
4)         Take it to critique group
5)         Discuss critique group comments, agree on what to change
6)         Revise it again
7)         Send it to beta readers
8)         Discuss beta reader comments, agree on what to change
9)         Revise it again
10)      Send it to next set of readers
11)      Discuss next set of reader comments, agree on what to change
12)      Revise it again
13)      Begin submission process

Ending with 13 didn’t thrill me, but it is what it is. We are now on step 10 and awaiting the verdict.
I don’t know how other people write their novels, whether their process is as broken up as ours, but what I do know is that it works for us. It’s in the down time that our subconscious does its thing and we go back to the manuscript with fresh eyes.
Steady by jerks.

1 comment:

angelaparsonmyers said...

I hadn't heard the expression, but that's how I write. I've never mastered the ability to put aside a given amount of time, much less a given time of day, to write. So you certainly aren't alone.