I found an editor. I sent her my fiction manuscript. I awaited her feedback. And I got it. Her email. Track changes. Phone call.
And then things got weird.
For me, not for her.
She was fine. She is fine. She’s quite good. But I wasn’t surprised. I had done my research. I also liked that her name happened to be the name of one of my characters. Just a silly coincidence. Or is it? But I digress.
Related post: 7 Ways to Find an Editor—and How to Know When It’s Time
After my conversation with the editor, I went through weird stages. Six, to be exact. I think I’m at the last of it. I’m starting to see the light. That’s why I can talk, uh, blog about it. So if things get weird for you after you hear from your editor—or if they have for you in the past—you’ll know that you’re not alone. Here’s what happened to me.
1. I didn’t write.
“Don’t work on this project for a few days.” That was one of the last things my editor said to me during our phone call. She said to put the WIP aside. Let things percolate. Marinate. I let my brain become a scoop of coffee beans. A slab of beef. I percolated. I marinated. I didn’t write for five days.
Five days. That’s a long time when you’ve trained yourself to write five or six days a week. So on the second day, I cheated a little. I worked on other projects. I had ideas for two other books, one fiction and one non-fiction. I wrote a bit for each. I wrote like the wind. No, like a hurricane. Category three. The kind that tears stuff up. Tosses a car. Rips up a tree. Goes in and leaves a mess.
Not writing and category-three-hurricane-writing weren’t like me. Definitely the first of the weird stages.
2. I went through the editor’s edits again—in one fell swoop.
This was a terrible idea. I was going for the rip-off-the-Band-Aid concept. My manuscript was the wound. The edits, collectively speaking, were the Band-Aid. I thought, I’ll just go through it all again. Really fast. RIP!
It stung. I winced a few times. I almost cried. One of my aspiring-writer-friends asked a good question: Why didn’t you just go through one chapter of edits per day?
I should have done that. I should have broken it up into pieces. There is a way to remove a bandage in a slow, methodical manner. It takes more time than ripping it off, but it’s a lot less painful.
But I didn’t do that, because I had entered the second weird stage.
3. I went into power-save mode.
While the ol’ coffee-bean brain was percolating, I wasn’t functioning at my optimal level. I was in some strange power-save mode.
For instance, I didn’t tweet as much. I try to tweet at least once a day during the weekdays, but that changed after I heard from me editor. I think there was a day or two that I didn’t tweet at all. And this blog? I try to do that weekly. Well, I skipped it. Usually when I skip, I feel guilty. Not this time. Because I had no idea what to write about. And thinking about what to write about was too much for the coffee-bean brain at the time.
I wasn’t as social in real life, either. I didn’t do as much talking on the phone, hanging out or texting as I normally do. I did some, of course, but not as much as usual. Perhaps percolating zapped some of my brain’s other resources. Or maybe I just didn’t want to be the writer-friend who was being weird.
4. I questioned the genre I picked.
My WIP is a romance novella. And the editor reminded me that romance readers have certain expectations, and my manuscript currently wasn’t meeting them. The story worked, she said. The nuts and bolts were there. I just needed to do some tweaking, re-arranging, trimming, adding, gelling.
But since I was in the weird stages, I thought: If my manuscript isn’t meeting the romance reader criteria of expectations, maybe I’m not writing a romance book. Maybe I’m writing something else. Women’s fiction? Commercial fiction?
No. Stop. The genre I picked is fine. My WIP is a romance novella. I just need to fix it so that it reads that way.
Related post: 10 Reasons I May Write a Novella Instead of a Novel
5. I thought of shelving the manuscript for good.
Remember in number 3 above, when I said that I didn’t tweet much? Well, one of those tweets I posted was a weird-stage one-off.
I was feeling daunted by all of the editor’s feedback. Maybe I had done too much percolating at this point. Who knows? I can’t believe I was thinking of giving it up, after all of the time I put into it. *smh*
6. I finally saw the light.
When I got to #5 above, the point of wanting to abandon the manuscript, I knew that I needed to start editing. Even if it was only a little. Once I decided that, I knew that the percolating was over, at least that phase of it.
I bought Scrivener. I pasted in the version of my manuscript with my editor’s track changes. And I got to work—only on chapter one. I needed to do one chapter at a time. I learned my lesson with the Band-Aid.
I moved things around, I tweaked, rearranged. Unfortunately, it wasn’t gelling.
So I did it again the next day and the next. And then finally, after rewriting the first chapter five different ways, something started to make sense. What was on the page was lining up with the editor’s feedback. Things were starting to gel. I started to feel hopeful.
I saw the light.
I’ve emerged from the weird post-editorial-feedback stages, and I think my work is looking stronger than it had before.
Do any of these stages resonate with you? What has your experience been after you received feedback from your editor?