Monday, August 06, 2012

turning the screws

So I had a talk with a potential editor today. Nice chat. Professional, insightful, clinical.

And now I'm freaking out. And I'm going to be freaking out for probably the next three days, because that's how long it takes these things to burn out of my system.

Just so you know... I'm at the stage where my agent is shopping around my novel. The manuscript is at a stage that we will tongue-in-cheek refer to as "finished." There are many stages of "finished" in the life of a book.

For instance, last fall I thought it was "finished" enough to send to agents. My agent read it, liked it, and thought it needed to be more "finished" before it could be sent to editors. I agreed, and in March we arrived at a new stage of "finished" which is now being circulated through New York. Now there's an acquiring editor who likes the book, but thinks it needs to be more "finished" to make it publishable. Assuming, of course, I can make changes to her satisfaction, she will then buy the "finished" manuscript and run it though the gauntlet of editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders who will eventually produce something "finished" enough to go to press.

Actually, writing all that out calms me somewhat. So did talking to my sister, who reminded me that this is how the biz works, that any editor I go with is going to want changes and I would be expected to make them if I wanted to sell the book.

And I let me be clear, here: I don't think the editor is necessarily wrong with the changes she wanted. In fact I think there was a lot of value in what she was telling me. And I know that a certain percentage of my readers are going to feel the same way. So how do I then revise to satisfy those readers without compromising the rest of the story/characters/intent? How do I know that just because this one editor thinks something needs adjustment, there isn't another editor who will think it's fine just as it is?

This is the part I hate about being a writer. The indecision, the second-guessing myself. You know what it's like? It's like being 13 years old and agonizing over "Does he like me? Was he talking about me? What did he say? What did that mean? What should I wear? Will this get his attention? Will he want to go out with me? What will we do when we go out? How do I let him know that I like him without being too trampy/slutty/pathetic/needy?" I hated that shit when I was a teenager and I hate feeling that way now.

I hate that the story has gone out to other editors and I won't have a chance to revise it again before they see it.

I hate that the last story in the novel is the weakest of the bunch and I don't know what to do about it.

And I hate the thought of rewriting on a 'maybe' because a story is like bread dough--you work it too much and it gets flat and tough.

1 comment:

damia1966 said...

Wow! Frustrating/exciting/nerve-wracking! Tinking good tawts, as Tweety would say. Good luck!!!