This week I received my first edits for Love Sucks from my editor. I was a little nervous, let me tell you. I had 16 beta reads of this novel (8 before the agent R&R and 8 after), and I remembered how it felt to get notes. Even ones I logically knew were spot on could upset me. Part of this would be me feeling ashamed that I overlooked the problem, but you know that some of it was a tiny bit of golden word syndrome. “How did the reader not understand that I was doing this???” You know how it is.
When you write a novel, you put your heart and soul into it. When you revise it, you’re polishing and making it even better than when you started, so now your heart and soul has been shined up and how could anyone not love it? You get pet scenes and pet plot points and pet characters, and even pet lines, and then someone tells you to change one. And you get defensive because it’s your baby. They tell you to explain something you know you made clear. They don’t get what you were doing. And you think it’s all their fault.
And then you calm down. You look at what the basis of the complaint is. You figure out ways to make necessary changes without losing the things you love about that scene or plot point or character or line. You remember that sometimes you miss information when reading too. And you also see if what you thought was clear was maybe not so clear after all. If they don’t get what you’re doing, maybe you need to make it more obvious. Maybe.
Of course, the whole time, you still appreciate their hard work. You make a lot of changes, you don’t make others (sometimes you should have). But there’s always this little tiny defensive voice. But I find that defensive voice goes away pretty much as soon as I finish the edits and read through it. There are very few things I remember from my earlier versions, and they are all MAJOR edits (like losing/adding in scenes). I rearranged the beginning of Love Sucks, and I could not tell you what scenes came before others. As important as I thought the way I originally wrote it was, it was not important enough to remember.
Those beta notes on Love Sucks, though? They were two years ago. I reread the novel for fun some time last year, and I took out most of Mailee’s stuttering a little before that. Other than that, I haven’t touched the book in over a year.
So when I got these edits from my editor, it turned out that I was so distant from the book that I didn’t feel defensive about any of them. Not even a little. If I think there was a bit of a reading miscomprehension, I figure out how to make it all clear. There’s one place so far that I’ve had to STET, and I was perfectly mellow about it, and all the rest of the revision notes have been me just nodding along and seeing what I can do. Maybe I got an editor who gets it? Well, I think I did, but my betas got it too, I know they did. I have betas who still tell me they love that novel. And one major suggestion by my editor is one that I’ve gotten before and I shrugged off and now I’m all ready to do it.
Distance is nice for taking revision suggestions.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m still an advocate for going straight into revisions as soon as you’re done with the novel if you’re still on that writing high. I love the initial editing passes, and I almost always do them within that month I finished. And I don’t suggest waiting a year or two before getting those first beta notes, no way.
But distance is nice. And I’m hoping that I continue to feel this way about my edits.
And as long as my editor doesn’t suggest I do something odd like cut out the main LI and make my MC fall in love with a minor character (yes, it’s happened before), I probably will.
Okay, time to go back to edits.
Lots of love,