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.
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.