I have to thank my critique partner, AbFab, for poring over the chapters one by one as I produced them, for giving very balanced and insightful comments, and helping me to shape the writing into something better. AbFab and I went away for the weekend, and we pretty much did nothing but write - or re-write.
Thanks also for my other critique buddy, Lisa Mc, who despite being the busiest working mother in the world, still managed to read my novel and offer some really helpful comments, which I took into consideration during the writing weekend.
During the weekend, AbFab read the entire novel from start to finish, and found some mistakes. Then I read it, and found others. I made the necessary alterations, and when I got home, I printed the entire manuscript out once more. And then, of course, I read it again. I couldn't help myself. And naturally, I found some more things I needed to change.
This morning, I began to read it another time, and again fiddled with the prose. I got about halfway through the manuscript, when I realised it was time to STOP.
Ever had that feeling? The manuscript is technically finished, but it's hard to stop tweaking sentences, changing words here and there - and then changing them back to the way they were at the start. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!
Thankfully, I recognised this was such a moment. Halfway through the fourth read-through, I stopped and hit the 'print' button. Honestly, I've been through the final draft so many times that there was nothing left to find. Only things to move around and re-arrange. There comes a time when you just have to say, 'That's it. I'm finished.' And I did that today, about 3pm.
And then I slipped the pristine manuscript, complete with cover page and bound with rubber bands into the envelope that will take it to Mills & Boon in London. I included all the necessary bits and pieces and sent it on its merry - and I hope successful - way.
Tonight, like an addict, I thought to myself, 'What shall I write now?' But the laptop was turned off, and will stay turned off for quite a few days, I think. Time to work with pen and paper, first. New characters, new plot, new project.