Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Don't Panic!

Wow, has it really been over a month since I posted? For the three of you who check back regularly, I sincerely apologize and as soon as this revision is put to bed and tucked in I should have the brainpower left to have something interesting to say here on the blog.

I got my second round of revision notes on The-Book-Formerly-Known-As-Destined (as some of you know, PC Cast is coming out with a book called Destined at about the same time, so basically, she wins the title contest) and as always, my first response is to panic, brush back tears and shake my head as I read the three single-spaced pages of notes, knowing deep in the pit of my stomach that there is no way I can possible fix all of the millions of things that are still wrong with this book. And we're not talking misplaced commas here. We're talking notes like: the overarching sense of danger is lacking...I found this plot point difficult to accept...this whole thing needs more of a build should give up writing altogether because you obviously have no talent. Okay, so I might have read between the lines on that last one. After an hour or so of wallowing, I usually go take a shower and when I emerge and read the letter over again, things are looking...if not doable, then at least remotely possible.

By the sixth time I've read the letter, I'm starting to see what my editor means. At this point, we usually start an epic email back and forth where I write comments or questions and she answers them in another color. I answer back in another color and this goes on for awhile until we have a veritable rainbow of possible solutions to the big issues. We've found over the past couple of years, that we both like email rather than phone conversations because we can print them out and refer back to them as we go. Plus the colors are pretty when you print it all out.

About this time, I usually call my BWB (best writing buddy) Daisy. She's read an early draft and knows enough about the book to be able to bring me back from the edge of the cliff. We talk possibilities from the insane (should V be the reincarnation of Hitler?) to the reasonable (maybe cutting this kissing scene, however painful, will move the plot along faster). Everyone needs someone who's not being paid to work on their book help them out. She can take a step back and help me see the big picture that is now completely lost to me.

By the end of the first day after notes come, the panic has ebbed and I'm starting to see a light at the end of this process. That maybe it just might work after all. That the book, when all is said and done, might not completely suck. It might just be...dare I say it...pretty awesome.

I guess the message in all of this is that when you get a critique, whether from your editor or your critique partner, don't panic. Don't email them right back, screaming about the fact that there is no way this is all going to get done. Don't get angry that they want to change big parts of your plot and kill some of your darlings. Put it away for a little bit, and when you come back, read each sentence slowly until it begins to make sense. A little time and common sense can do wonders. A big bag of Starburst jelly beans left over from Easter doesn't hurt either.