Forays into Editing

For my Valentine’s Gift today, I got a note from my agent telling me that yet another house has passed on my second novel. I just sighed and sort of wandered away from the computer, deciding it was time to raid my stash of chocolate chips again.

There’s a part of me that just knows I’m going to be called on to revise this manuscript — again, and right now, I just can’t even think about it. I have a semi-solid mid-March deadline for the piece I’m working on now (before ye olde Agent, S.A.M., goes to Barcelona for the Book Faire), and I’ll soon be doing final edits on the first novel, so there’s a big “Noooo!” swelling up from my soul at the idea of going backwards yet one more time to mess with this piece. I’ve heard it’s too dramatic, too this, too that, but everyone loves the writing, loves the way it deals with “sensitive subjects.” All right, then… can anyone be more specific about what they don’t love, then?

A trip to Our Jane’s Brain has cured me of my tendency to pout, though. Well, not entirely, but work with me, huh? Jane Yolen spoke at the SCBWI Midwinters Conference in NY, and this is some of what she said, as recorded in her online journal:

“If you enter into revision angrily, hating the editor and all of her notes, you will get little out of the process. So learn to love the process as well…

“Read the letter, put it down, and re-read it again the next day. Call a best friend and read the letter to her or him. Or take a hot bath and let the water soak away that initial anger, which—after all—is just the body reacting to being thwarted in the age-old desire to be loved unconditionally.

Mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers can love you that way. An editor has better things to do with her time and your manuscript.”

And incidentally, so does your agent have better things to do with their time! I have wasted a lot of time repeatedly allowing myself to become emotionally flayed by a guy who is really only doing his job on my MANUSCRIPT, not ME (oh, why is that still so hard to separate the two?).
Granted: rejection stinks. I still HATE hearing him say “No” and his gift for dry understatement in his pithy little margin comments initially brings me to hives — or worse — until I set his note aside for awhile. Writers just live too far inside of their own heads sometimes, and rejection in any form sometimes feels overwhelming. But when I’m sane (and when is that, exactly?) I know it’s really not personal. Really. And though I may never feel comfortable with him, I know my agent knows his stuff. I think highly of him professionally, so maybe… maybe the fact that we’ll never name our (non-existent) children after each other… well, maybe that’s okay.

For Valentine’s Day, I bequeath to myself the gift of realism: not everybody has to be best buddies.

All right, enough navel-gazing nonsense. Back to work…

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of eight books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for the new MG, Go Figure, Henri Weldon in 9/2022 from Katherine Tegen Books.

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