Monday, December 12, 2011

Revision Neurosis

On Friday I got my editorial letter from Penguin for Tate's newest novel Precinct 13. Shawn and I were off celebrating "anniversary observed" and so I didn't really see it in my in-box until yesterday. Today is the first day I'm sitting down and really looking at it. First of all, it's seventeen pages long. That's pretty long, though my editor didn't send back an electronically marked-up document, so it's not as line-by-line detailed as some of the others have been (though there is *some* of that.)

My editor is always very reasonable in her expectations, but regardless, I seem need to spend the first day of "revising" actually fuming, and not (re-)writing at all. I get over it. I usually get over it in a matter of hours, and then get down to the work of making changes that she will appreciate and I can live with. More often than not, I come out the other side very grateful for her suggestions.

I suspect that'll happen again... any minute now.

However, at this very second, I just want to whine that "no one understands my GENIUS!!"

It's something I've noticed a lot about my writing process: it's very manic depressive (or maybe just... neurotic). For instance, I just finished a short story that I'm submitting to the second Biblical horror anthology that Dybbuk Press is putting out. I HATED the story at several points during its creation, but, on Friday, when I finished going over my writers' group's comments and revising it, I thought it was the most awesome thing anyone had written eVAR in the history of writing. If/When it gets rejected, I will, at first, decide that the editor was the biggest fool in the universe not to recognize my genius. I will immediately send it off to someone else who might appreciate me more. Then, after it's gone back into the mail, I will suddenly believe that I suck, and that none of my writing has ever been worthy of publication.

Technically, I skipped a step in here, where I will love the story just before I print it out to handout to my writers' group, and then, the moment they have it in their grubby little hands, think of everything that's wrong with it and why they're going to tell me it's dumber than the dumbest thing ever uttered. And, then the subsequent roller coaster of emotions at the writers' group itself where I'm insanely happy that they found things to like, and mortified by the things that need improvement. Weirdly, I don't tend to blame Wyrdsmiths for not recognizing my genius, and I no longer go through a period, not even a millisecond, of thinking, "Wow, they just don't GET me," probably because my brain pre-filters comments as I'm listening to them, ie, "Oh, that was a good catch, I'll write that down," vs. "Well, that wasn't my intention, but so-and-so doesn't like horror, so I'll note that impression but not dwell on it other than to make sure that part is toned down in revision so no other reader goes there."

I think that just shows that there's a lot of trust built up in Wyrdsmiths over time. You'd think I'd have that same trust with my editor, but I see Wyrdsmiths every other week. I talk to my editor usually only when working on a book's revisions with her, once or twice a year. Also, face-to-face is ultimately different than receiving a seventeen page critique (even though my editor is always very good to mention the things she likes as well.)

I guess I just needed to articulate that, because I have no one here at home to complain to besides the cats.

Not that I'm a crazy cat lady.


Devin said...

I'm going through this right now. I got editorial comments back that made me hate my book. I needed a few days to work through the emotional blow and realized it wasn't as bad as I thought it was.

Writing can be such an emotional roller coaster.

Anonymous said...

I haven't worked with an editor - yet - but my experience with the Scribblerati has taught me that trust and respect are HUGE. I may not always agree with everything they say but once I get past the emotional "oh frak that's wrong too???" Then I remember they are intelligent human beings who only have my best interest at heart.

*internet hug to all critiquers*

PS good post over here lately :-)

Jon said...

I got my editorial notes back on the short story I placed with the upcoming Cifiscape anthology and they weren't too bad. I was expecting the gut punch, but it turned out good.