September 15, 2011

7 Things I Learned From This Revision

I've been working hard on my revisions for Grace & Chocolate and just sent them to my editor this morning at 2 am.

I know, what??

Last night we got back from our annual fruit run where we drive to a fertile valley in Idaho, overload a giant UHaul with boxes of peaches and pears, then drive it back to not fertile but ruggedly beautiful Big Horn Basin, WY, where I live. It's a fast, whirlwind of a trip and we've been doing it for 5 years now. And I happened to finish my revisions just before my turn to drive the last leg home, from West Yellowstone, through the park, and out the East gate, then on to Cody. We saw a grizzly just off the road totally chowing down on some bushes, and that was awesome.

After we unloaded way too much fruit into our garage and the truck continued on to the other side of the Basin, I skimmed through the manuscript again, catching little things here and there, hoping that, after the 8th or 10th time through, this story was still fresh, that it was still the same story I started out with a year ago, only better, tighter. Finally, I realized I couldn't do any more to it without input from my editor, so I wrote the email, attached the ms, and hit "send". Oy.

A few things I learned from my very first editor-managed revision:

1) 85% of my editor's fixes and suggestions were really great. I stumbled over a few ideas and stressed about not pleasing her. This was okay. I'm allowed.

2) Asking for advice from a few author friends who had done this a few times was critical, and gave me confidence, not only in addressing issues with my ms, but also in how to communicate with my editor, and paying attention to what feels right for my story.

3) My editor listens to me.

4) Beta readers are essential to making a story better. I had some writers, and I had some readers, and a variety of different styles of feedback, from simply needing to know more about characters and background, to eagle-eye critique where everything is questioned. Some paid attention to little misses in detail and grammar, and some had me pushing to fill a plot hole. One highlighted every "looked" I'd written in the 1st few pages. Yikes. Lots of looking going on. EVERY SINGLE READER had something that helped make my writing better.

5) At one point, I was a quivering mass of WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING THINKING I CAN WRITE A NOVEL. I started addressing critique, one issue at a time, keeping what worked, what made me excited about the story, and setting aside what didn't feel right. It didn't take long for me to feel excited again.

6) Sending a revised manuscript is almost as scary as sending a new one.

7) When you are given a deadline, you will also find a job with more hours then you intended to have, you will get the flu, you will be in the middle of fruit orders, and it will be back-to-school shopping time.

So, I'm still learning, still trying, and still thinking about what comes next. In the meantime, I have a link with some information on a Christmas story anthology I'm part of. I'm very excited and nervous about being a part of this book with so many wonderful authors! Thanks, Traci Hunter Abramson, for sharing the love.

That's my name right there. See?


Stephanie Black said...

Congrats on getting your revision turned in! It's funny how often publishing is a "hurry up and wait" kind of business. Nothing happens with your manuscript for long stretches and then suddenly it lands in your lap and you need to revise or review edits or proof on a tight schedule. My first edited manuscript showed up in my inbox on the day I arrived home from the hospital with my new baby daughter. Strangely enough, this turned out to be a good thing, since my mother was here taking care of everything else . . .

Maggie said...

I am so excited for the Christmas book. Can't wait to read it!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Congrats on all this awesomeness!

Krista said...

Stephanie, I can see how you're mother bring there would definitely help!

Maggie, thanks, me too!

Tristi, thank you!

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