Monday, September 20, 2010

Raising a Novel

Yesterday was a tough day for me. I got my edits back on my next book.

This is new to me because Passion Fish was written as a collaboration, so the editing process was a little different and we had to hand the reins over to our editor, otherwise it would have taken years for Alison and I to come to an agreement over what color top Eve was wearing. We agreed on all the big things, but as you write a character, you picture them in your head. Okay, maybe that is just me, but when I'm writing, my characters are living breathing people who live in my head and whisper things to me to put on the paper. (Good thing I found writing as an outlet, because that just sounds NUTS!) So I just had a different picture in my head than Alison and we decided on those things we would let our editor decide. It worked out great, and she did a fabulous job.

But, by doing the editing this way, I never had that moment where I opened up my manuscript to find all of those bubbles off to the side questioning my ideas. So I was a bit shocked yesterday when I did open my new manuscript. There were A LOT of bubbles!! I wanted to cry for a minute. (I know that my editor reads this - I'm going somewhere here, darling!! Please keep reading!! I promise I redeem myself!!)

My wonderful husband saw the look on my face and asked what was wrong. I told him why I was on the verge of tears and his response was, "Well, that's her job, right?" Okay, now I'm pretty sure I just did a post last week about how supportive my husband is, but at that moment I wanted to delete it! He was absolutely right, of course, but I wanted him to be as hurt as I was.

I explained it to him this way; it's like when the teacher tells you that your child isn't doing well in school and gives you a list of things that you need to do to make them better. Your first reaction is a defensive one...someome just criticized my child! How dare they! Even if they were right, it is just the knee-jerk reaction that we have as a parent.

Here is the thing, though. That teacher just wants your kid to succeed! And, after a few minutes of being hurt and a little pissed off, you settle down and think about what they said and then get to work to make sure that your kid gets the education that they deserve and need.

Our books are like kids to us. We put a lot of work and love into them, and then to have someone tell you that you've done it wrong is a hard pill to swallow. It took me about a half hour of feeling sorry for myself while the comments that my editor had made were pinging around in my head for me to realize that some of the things that she said were absolutely right and I started to plot out the changes that I had to make.

So, to my editor, who like I said, I'm pretty sure is reading this. THANK YOU!! Because you have the guts to tell me your honest opinions, my book will be better for it! And in the end, I would rather have one person tell me these things that a couple thousand when the book comes out.

You're doing a great job at shaping the young novels of the future!!


  1. Your husband made a good comment! Yes it's the editors job! The more bubbles the better the book. Hooray for bubbles!

  2. I'm always curious to get the feedback but you're right - that first look can kind of sting!

  3. Aww, I love a blog post with a happy ending! :) I didn't make it very far in the blog hop on Monday...but part of me thinks I was subconsciously afraid of hopping over here. I don't blame you one bit for your initial emotions---they were the natural, honest emotions that any author feels. But please tell the hubster that I owe him a beer. ;)

  4. I like Karen's take on this--the more bubbles, the better the book! I'm working my my editor JRO on my sequel right now and she makes such awesome edits that I rarely feel too defensive. However, if I have to change something big, I do feel kind of exhausted. I'm like, it took me long enough to write this the FIRST time!

  5. I have to say that it makes SO much sense what you're describing and going through. I've gone through plenty of my own periods of coming upon a comment by an editor and having to step away from it so I could think fairly and objectively. When they make a revision suggestion, it's only because they want your book to be the very best that it can! And in my experience with editing and editors, they've been open to argument, as well. Nine times out of ten, though, I end up agreeing and am so so happy, in the end, that I made the changes. Yay for editors!!