I finished my epic fantasy, In the Seventeenth Year, over eighteen months ago. A small publisher requested the full manuscript, asked for edits, and then held onto the revised manuscript for almost a year. When they finally got back to me, they passed on the manuscript, but they provided a (much appreciated) list of things their editors did and did not like about the manuscript.
While I was waiting to hear back about Seventeenth Year, I wrote my paranormal romance, Killing Kessler. Now that Killing Kessler is almost ready for the query stage, I'm beginning another revision of Seventeenth Year. When I wrote Seventeenth Year, I really thought I'd done the best job I could possibly do. Now, looking at it over a year later, I'm amazed at what I'm finding, especially the extensive use of passive tense. Maybe I've just grown as a writer (which would not have happened had I not spent that year writing Killing Kessler), but I really do believe the year I took off from Seventeenth Year has allowed me to look at it with a critical eye I never would have had before. Though I had routinely set Seventeenth Year aside for a couple of weeks between revisions, I never noticed the overuse of "was" and "were" until I'd let the book rest for a year.
First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner (one of my all-time favorite writing reference books - if you're an outliner, I highly recommend it) advises setting a manuscript aside for a few weeks or even months after finishing the outline, after completing the first draft, and after final editing and polishing. With all this setting the book aside, sometimes it seems I'll never actually get to the query stage. But if I'm completing other steps of the process for other books along the way, soon I'll have several books ready for submission.
That's great, but as I go through this revision of Seventeenth Year, I'm discovering that's not the biggest advantage. Giving a manuscript a lengthy cooling off period really does allow me to come back to it with a completely fresh eye, seeing things I'd missed time and time again on my earlier edits. Yes, all this waiting does take an extraordinary amount of patience, but it doesn't seem so long when I'm working on another stage of another project in the meantime. Besides, we're writers, we know all about waiting, right? :)
What about you? Do you work on more than one project at a time? Do you give your manuscripts rest periods at various stages? If so, how long?
Happy Memorial Day everyone!