The Manuscript Is Done

Essentially, that was the message I heard from my editor yesterday.

I’ve input all the changes I want to make in The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte based on the copy editing. I read it through. I sent my editor a long email discussing my evaluation of the book and the fact that it fulfills the goals I had for this particular project.

He wrote back expressing his opinion, which corroborated mine. The one thing that surprised me is that he suggested that I let it sit a couple of days and read it through one more time to make sure that nothing “clanks” in my ear. I was eager to send it on to the designer, but I think his counsel is wise.

I have such ambivalent feelings about letting the manuscript go. The last two years plus of living with these people has been very intense, and now I’m going to be done tinkering with their lives. I hope that Betsy, wherever she is, feels that I’ve told her story well. That was my goal when I started this project, to portray her tumultuous life in all its complexity, not to let her be a caricature or a symbol of any kind.

I don’t have children, so I’ve never had the experience of sending one of my babies out into the world . . . until now. As my editor said in an email the other day, the manuscript is about to go beyond the reach of my protection. If I’ve done my job right, I’ve imbued it with enough strength so that it can stand on its own.

This is the most famous portrait of the real Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, painted by Gilbert Stuart. Look at the bust on the left. Can’t you just see her saucy personality? That was one thing I’ve tried to capture in my book. It will be up to my future readers to determine if I succeeded.

Elizabeth-Patterson-Bonaparte_Gilbert-Stuart_1804Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Gilbert Stuart, 1804

8 Comments

Filed under Publishing

8 responses to “The Manuscript Is Done

  1. Congratulations, Ruth! This is wonderful news.

    A little time and distance from a work can really alter your perspective and allow for a fresh and critical eye. Like your editor, I’ve found it wise to step away and look again later before I call a piece “finished.” It can’t hurt, and–like a good sauce–a long, slow simmer can improve the flavor. šŸ˜‰

    Again, congratulations!

    • I agree. Distance is good. To really get distance, I think I’d need more than two days, but at least this will give me the chance to re-evaluate the most recent changes. Thanks, Marc, for the congrats! I’m sure I’ll be excited once I get past the initial shock of sending my baby out into the world.

  2. Florence Brewer

    That is great news—-It must be like sending your children off into the world—–I wish you all the best and hope to read the finished product.

  3. krystal jane

    šŸ˜€ This is so exciting!! Congratulations! It seems the longer we’re with the characters, the harder it is to let them go.

    • Yes, when I finished an earlier draft, I missed my characters so much, I wrote a story from the POV of Jerome Bonaparte. (The whole novel is first person limited from Betsy’s POV.) But I can’t do anything with it–not eve post it here–because it gives away too much of the plot of the larger work. šŸ˜¦

  4. Fabulous, Ruth — congratulations!

    Understand what you mean about missing your characters. I mentioned to my husband last night that I kind of wished my characters were real people because I’d like to meet them. Sounds goofy, but they do seem like they’re real. Your case is different, I know, because you were/are writing about real people. But after a while, I’m sure you feel like you know them better than some colleagues or acquaintances.

    Anyway, congrats again!

    • Thank you! Your statement doesn’t sound goofy to me at all I do feel like I know Betsy. Somehow, I’ve sensed that she’s aware of what I’m doing, and I truly hope she feels that I’ve represented her well. She was a complicated woman with both admirable and not-so-admirable qualities, and I wanted to portray her fully.

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