September 8, 2013

Listening to the Editor

Dear M,

Today I crossed a major milestone. I sent the MS off to my editor. It was with me for six months - can you imagine! - since she sent me her last set of suggestions. Can you also imagine the amount of ploughing up I must have done on it in six months?

I am superstitious though I am not particularly keen to announce that fact to everyone, and I am not too superstitious, but I like to take care of a few things, sending it off on a good day at a good time, etc. I decide the good day and time, though. So this time, it was today.

I hope I never hear from my editor again.

Not that I actually hope for anything of the sort, but just that the reply from the editor is something we all dread. The only response acceptable to us is "Holy Sh##! This book is outstanding! I've never read anything remotely exciting or interesting as this! I just couldn't put it down! I don't think you need to change a single line in it!"

But of course, very rarely do first time writers face that kind of a response. Editors are a kinder lot that we like to give them credit for. Instead of saying "Eeeek! What a horrid, unconvincing story! All I want to do is throw it into the trash!", they would tell us, "I think we need to change this part a bit so that it blends in with the scene in chapter 2" or "We may need to re-write the plot to take into consideration..." and things like that. I would so like to appreciate the pains they go through to believe in our story. But however kind they are, the fact remains that their report is going to make us a wee bit unhappy.

A friend remarked on social media recently that she had just received her editor's email and she was going to take a walk before she opened it. That says it all.

Prepare yourself for the worst, and believe that the editor has your book's best interests at heart (though maybe not yours). Everything else can be ignored.

I know my editor isn't going to get back to me for a long time. She must be working on something now, that she has to finish, then she will take a while to read and re-read mine and see how I have changed things, and ask herself, is the writing good? it the story exciting? are the characters behaving as they should? is the plot flowing and believable? if it is too fantastic, is it within a reasonable range? do I feel like throwing it into the trash, or am I curious to turn the page? what would a normal reader feel if he/she picks this book up?

She's there to help me get the book out, that's all. She isn't waging vendetta against me. But I really hope this time I have got most of it right on my MS and that the closure is near.


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