When I’ve worked on a draft for months and taken it as far as I can at that time I hand it off to be read by others. After working for hours, weeks, months on a project, I lose all objectivity (if I ever had any to begin with). My brain roils, unwilling to let the story go, unable to determine whether the words I’ve set down make any sense at all outside of my head. It’s a terrible time for me. A time of emotional storm. Removing the manuscript from my hands takes a moment; removing it from the front burner of my brain takes days. But by the time the manuscript returns to me I’m able to look at it anew and consider the suggestions and questions my reader(s) have asked about it. I exit from the world again for another few months as I re-craft the book. Then, again, when I reach the point of roiling storm I hand the manuscript to a new pair of eyes, to fresh readers. This goes on over the course of a couple of years until the storm in my brain is unbearable, I can no longer sleep, I am a stranger to myself, and my sensibilities have become more deeply seated in the fictional world than in the real one. That is when, finally, I let the manuscript go for good.
“When do you share a draft with others?”