I’m sitting here in front of Outlook. An e-mail arrived this morning from my editor at Month 9 Books, Courtney Koschel. (Yes, that’s right. THE Courtney Koschel of this very blog) I’ve been waiting all day to open it. I had to sit through my commute, meetings, board papers, phone calls, and work e-mails thinking about THIS e-mail The one I’m sitting in front of right now. My knee is shaking; I’m biting my bottom lip. Nervous? Yes. Excited? Yes.
I take a deep breath, prepare for the worst, tell myself to be realistic, remind myself that I knew work on Pretty Dark Nothing had only begun, that I knew I would have to revise one more time. I would be called upon to dig even deeper and collaborate with my editor to make it even stronger. After several years of my life, first drafts, revision after revision after revision, polishing, betas, queries, submissions and finally a sale, I was about to come face to face with the real honest truth about my writing. *gulp* What was an editorial letter really going to be like? I know my writing has flaws. Will she point out ones I’m aware of? Will they surprise me? Will my editor ‘get’ my work? How much revision am I really going to need to do?
I close one eye and squint through the other as I open the word document like ripping off a Band-Aid. I nod as I start to read through the comments. I groan at myself for basic flaws that I worked so hard to eradicate. Nothing gets by Courtney. J For a start, show instead of tell. And I thought I was doing so well at this. *sigh* “Skull Hopping” This wasn’t a surprise. I know there are some places where I stubbornly held on to a few ping pong points of view. Retelling- Yep! I know exactly where she’s talking about. Darn. No hiding my lazy writing from this super editor. Timeline issues. OMG! Why didn’t I notice those? And the list goes on. But along with the flaws, she points out the strengths and I know it’s about working on my weaknesses so that the book shines. The great thing? I agree with 99% of her comments. Don’t worry, Courtney, I’ll be calling you about the other 1%. We are on the same page and the same team.
So was the first editorial letter really that scary? Yes and no. It’s scary because I know I have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time and because I want PRETTY DARK NOTHING to be the best it can possibly be. I won’t accept any less and I know Courtney is right there with me, supporting me and cheering me on and that’s what makes it not so scary. It’s not just my book anymore. It’s a collaboration between myself and my editor to smooth out the rough edges and slap a coat of fresh paint on it. It’s belongs to my publisher and my publicist and the whole team at Month 9 Books. And ultimately, it belongs to my readers. You have to put ego aside and embrace the comments, to grow, to strive to be a better writer at every step of the way. I thank my editor for believing in me enough to challenge me, to push me to achieve what she knows I’m capable of. So if you don’t hear from me for the next 30 days, know that I’m buried in revisions, working hard to become better than I am. Write on!
Where are you in your writing process? How do you handle being shown the truth about your writing? This doesn’t have to be from an editor, this could be from a beta reader or critique partner.