A couple days ago I finished reading through my first pass pages for The Violinist of Venice and sent them back to my editor. First pass pages are when you receive a hard copy of the manuscript that has been typeset and formatted how it will look in the actual book. Therefore this was the first time that Violinist looked like a real book, and so that was a pretty big moment in and of itself.
The point of the pass pages is for the author to go through the book again and make any small changes that still need to be made, correct anything that may have been missed in copy edits, etc. So I spent quite a while reading through the entire manuscript (it took me some time, it being a very long book). But really, I loved the experience. I haven’t simply sat down and read through the whole thing – just read it as a reader, without an eye to making changes or cutting things or revising – in over a year, since right before I began querying agents. For the first time, I was really able to read it as though it were a book, a for-all-intents-and-purposes finished piece of work, and not a work-in-progress.
It was very cool. I felt like I finally had enough distance, enough objectivity, to really see that it is a good book, that I really did pull it off and write something good. It’s strange how easy it is to lose sight of that more often than not. We writers are our own harshest critics, and so we don’t always give ourselves the credit we maybe deserve.
I tweeted some of my thoughts as I was reading, using the hashtag #ViolinistofVenice, so feel free to check that out, if you are so inclined.
I got emotional as I was reading the story, at all the right parts where I want readers to get emotional, and even with my new-found distance I couldn’t really tell if that was a genuine reaction to the text, or if it was just because this book is my baby. I’ll never be able to completely objective about it, I know. But just as there’s a moment in the book when my main character, Adriana, realizes that the music she writes really does and can mean something to other people, I realized that maybe my words could too.
Another big part of my emotional reaction to reading the pages – especially on the last day, when I finished reading and got ready to send it back to my publisher – was my realization that this was the very last time the book would be just mine, and mine alone. Soon ARCs will be printed and will be sent out into the world, for bloggers and reviewers and readers, and then the book and the story and the characters aren’t just mine anymore. That day was the last time it was just me and those words, sitting with each other at my desk. And though of course I want the book to go out into the world, am excited and proud and happy and nervous and anxious about it, it was a big deal to sort of acknowledge and be aware of that moment, and to cherish it.
My baby book is all grown up now.