It's a little like cleaning out a closet. You start out with great verve and enthusiasm, but you reach a point when the house looks so much worse with everything strung out than it did when your mess was tucked behind a closet door.
I've been inhabiting a Revision Cave for a while now, at least two weeks. The sad fact of life is, even after selling several manuscripts, I still have revisions to get through.
And this revision letter? It's a beaut.
It's not that I disagree with my editor's insight. No, on the contrary, my wonderful editor Laura Barth put her finger on several things that, if fixed, will make SECRET SANTA stronger.
My husband, bless his heart, can't understand this. He asks, "Well, they bought the proposal, so why don't they like it now?"
I try to explain. "Have you ever rented a movie because the trailers looked so good and the back of the video was interesting, and then you got it home and you thought, 'Huh, this isn't as good as I'd hoped it would be?'"
The answer to that one would be a yes, and I knew it when I asked him. But he still doesn't quite get it.
I do. And I don't mind. I appreciate an editor taking the time to help me make my work stronger -- I've read too many books where it read as though the editor just phoned it in. These days, an editor is doing more with less -- and it's a hard job.
Do I wish I could hit it out of the ballpark every time? Shoot, yeah. I wish every word that came from my finger tips was golden, that it made readers laugh and then weep and cash registers ca-ching.
That's not real writing, though. Real writing, as my first writing teacher told me, is re-writing.
Revision equals its parts: re + vision -- to view something again -- and if you haven't taken that WIP apart and put it back together, if you haven't pulled out all the contents of that closet and strung it out, then it's probably not ready for primetime. I know that I'm infinitely grateful to have this opportunity!