Monday, July 26, 2010

How I Talk Myself Off the Ledge (Or Tips on Facing Revision Notes)

Revising for an editor is always surprising. The manuscript you thought was perfect enough to submit to him or her is suddenly so full of holes and unanswered questions it looks like a crumpled map to nowhere fit only for making a paper mache pinata for your kid's birthday party. And yes, you will enjoy watching small children beat the tiny remains of life out of it.

How does this happen? And when did I become such an optimist?

I haven't even received my editorial letter but I've already conceived of my manuscript's sad demise. I even spent part of the weekend putting the text into Scrivener so I'd be ready to tackle what I am sure to be GARGANTUAN revisions as soon as my editorial letter arrives. It was set to come last week so of course now I believe that every day it doesn't come means my editor decided to write an additional page of changes. Maybe an additional two pages.

The funny thing is though, I say GOOD. No really. Revising with an editor? It is such a gift. It may be hard to see at first, but it is. A big one. Working with someone who honestly wants to help you produce your best work yet? That is priceless. It's a privilege. Yes, it can be truly agonizing and downright painful. But when you let go, I mean really let go, it is also a beautiful thing.

But how do you quiet the voice of doubt you hear as soon as you finish reading the letter telling you just how not perfect your manuscript is?

Here are some of my tips. :-)

First, let go of:

• "But I loved that line."

• "But that scene took me three weeks to write."

• "You must have missed something."

• "But I was trying to say..."

Second, take a deep breath. Then:

• Write a line you love more.

• Write a scene that takes you one moment to write because you are finally brave enough to write through it instead of around it like you've been doing for twofive years.

• Write with clarity not innuendos.

• Don't try to say something. Say it. Honestly.

I'm sure when I get my letter and tell myself these things, I'll laugh at myself for being so naive. And cry a little, because I won't think I can do it. Again. But then I'll take a deep breath. I'll remember my mantra for the year: Be brave! And I'll roll up my sleeves and get to work. :-)


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Write to the prompt, "What I really wanted to tell you..."

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