Starting Something New…

Up until a few days ago I hadn’t written anything new for months. I was stuck in edit land, learning new things about myself as a writer. Getting edited by a professional editor is different that going through the revision process by yourself. When you’re revising everything is your call. Your decision. It’s only your book, but when you get a revision letter from an editor it’s different… It’s hard to explain. It’s like the book becomes bigger than itself, because getting that letter reminds you that you’re one step closer to releasing your baby into the world.

 

Every book has flaws, sometimes fatal flaws and as writers we know what the flaws are in our work, but having somebody else point them out is almost painful. Some writers love going through the editing process. They say it takes a mediocre book and makes it into a good one. But a lot of us don’t feel that way. A lot of us turn that book in and pray that our editor won’t see the flaws, that we’ll be able to skate by without having to fix things.

But that never happens. Those smarty pants editors always see the flaws and they send you a letter highlighting them. You read the letter and each point they make is like a little stab in the heart. Why? Because all the points are valid. They are never the little things that are easily fixed, like random spaces before punctuation. They are big things. Things that you knew were off when you sent the book in. They weren’t things you didn’t fix because you were lazy, they were things you didn’t fix because you didn’t know how.

So you read the letter and read the letter again and reread it twenty more times, hoping that magic will happen and you’ll suddenly know how to fix everything. But that rarely happens. It’s weeks of thinking and writing and rewriting and being stuck in your head. A lot of times it takes talking to another writer to make things clear, sometimes things will clear up by themselves.

And then one day you’re done. The book is as fixed as it’s going to get and you send it back to your editor. You feel free then, joyful almost. That weight has been lifted off your shoulders. But that feeling only lasts a few minutes because now that means that you have got to start something new.

Crap.

I was talking to fellow Scribe, Jennifer Fusco on Facebook the other night. We are both starting something new. And I had been feeling panicky/ anxious all week. I had a thousand thoughts running through my mind, a thousand scenes, a hundred lines of dialog that could go in my book but I had no direction. Where is this book going? What am I doing? What am I writing?

It may sound a little mean but I was glad to see that Jen was going through it too, because I realized that I was not alone in my pain. And if she felt that way and I felt that way, then there must be more of us out there who feel that panic when they are faced with something new.

And I think that’s why joining a writer’s group/ connecting with other writers is invaluable. If you get nothing else out of it, the feeling you are not alone in your pain is enough. :)

So… It’s your turn. How do you feel about starting something new? Is it all rainbow and sunshine? Or cloudy days and crying? How do you feel about the editing process? Can you relate? Any and all comments are welcome.

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8 thoughts on “Starting Something New…”

  1. There seems to be pain in every stage of this process, LOL. Of course there are also joys, which is why we write–either that or we are all masochists.

    I also just started a new project which seems daunting and a bit scary, but I’ve come to recognize is all about perspective. I could either panic and feel anxious about that blank page and thinking about the 70-80,000 words I’ve got to come up with, or I can see it as the best part of this job–the reason I write to begin with. For the joy of creating something out of nothing–stringing words together to make magic happen on the page. After going through the editing process a few times, I’ve gotten to be pretty good at editing my own work. This is somewhat of a stumbling block for me since it makes it more difficult to just let go and write without critically viewing every word. The hardest part for me is just letting go and letting the words flow onto the page the way they used to when I was a first draft addict and had no one to please but myself:-)

    Just remember who you’re writing for–and it’s not for the editors.

    1. My books end up in the 100,000 word range and now bc I’m on a deadline for the first in my writing life I guess I’m feeling the pressure to not only get the words on the page but to make them spectacular.

  2. Thank you for putting it out there, Silver! I know exactly what you’re feeling.
    For me, writing is an emotional roller coaster. I do a lot of angsting when I plot and write the synopsis. I’m excited to start, until I get well into the first chapter, then it’s down again. “Is it all there? Everything I need? What have I left out?” Back up, once I get into chapter two, until I get to the middle. Ugh. But the high at the end of the book, when I actually know where I’m going, is worth it all.
    Sounds like I’m a bi-polar writer, doesn’t it? Funny thing is, I absolutely love it.

  3. I’m just getting back into the third book of the series and it’s daunting. Like you, I’ve been in the editing mode and then the promoting mode. I know where the story is going–have re read the outline, notes and what has bee written already but now I’m looking at it in edit mode instead of creating mode–Today, I decided to shake out the brain and go forth. I know you’ll create something marvelous because you are a great writer.
    See brain all over the place!

  4. I have been in editing mode as well, but I’m one of those people who like it. I think it makes my words have magic and makes the novel shine. I value every comment the editor gives me. His/Her comments get my brain going. And, like Marian, I’m just coming off promoting mode for the first novel and getting ready to start something new. For me, I get an idea and need to let it mull around in my mind for a few days before I come up with a story. I think that although we are all on the same path, each author’s journey is different. I agree that being involved with like minded people really helps. You are a really good writer, Jamie, so it will be wonderful. Trust your talent and your editor.

  5. Pingback: First Round Edits

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