I think I’ve already posted on my stages of edits, not like how many rounds I go through (this time I think it was four before I called the first draft ready to go), but the various stages that my mind goes through when I get an editorial letter back. For a while, there is only the sound of clanging alarms in my brain because no matter how positive the beginning and ending are, there’s the complex middle filled with the clunks, bangs, and bumps I was afraid were there. Failure looms large in my brain at that point. I know how to sandwich bad news. It’s one of the first things I learned in management. The alarm bells are clanging because I’m certain that I’ll never figure out how to fix the messy middle part. And then I start to tell myself it will all be fine. I mean, I have a novella and a book out in the world. I’ve had a pretty good run. If this is the end for me, then I can accept it with grace and dignity. No. Not. Really.
First of all, there’s the blessed beautiful long-awaited and adored contract. And secondly, there’s this…determination maybe, a grim certainty that because someone’s asked me to do something and thinks I can, I’m going to do it, by gum. (It sort of sounds like an old west prospector in my head, by golly. Darn tootin’.)
So I goof off for a bit. Buy groceries. Email about RWA and clothes and parties and things that real writers get to enjoy (and possibly write a blog post). Because I am a real writer. And that means revisions.
Then I sit down, open up the manuscript, take a big drink of a caffeinated beverage, and read the comments. All of them. And I want to kiss my editor, like…you know, in total gratitude. The letter’s the general direction. Her comments inside the manuscript point the way. It’s like now I have company to figure this all out. And because she’s good and a professional and has probably dealt with more than one withering flower like me, she’s peppered in encouragement. When she comments “This gave me goose bumps,” I think to myself “That’s pretty darn good right there, hot stuff.” I might even tear up a little in relief. And I feel better. Stronger. Like maybe it’s doable after all and that maybe she can help me whip the new book, the one that’s running amok currently, into shape.
So here’s my PSA: if you are a reader and you appreciate what writers do, maybe think about this process when you’re writing your reviews. I’m just assuming many writers think like I do. Please write them, but try the sandwich technique. Withering flowers who are growing their way from good to…who-knows will thank you.
If you’re an editor, thank you. I love books. I loved them before I tried to write them. You are critical and mean the difference between good and great. Also, if you nurture withering flowers like me, you deserve a pat on the back.
And if you’re a writer, especially if you’re a successful one, leave me a comment to tell me it all gets easier, like clockwork, after the second book. Lie if you have to.