They say that when you suffer a loss or tragedy in your life you go through the seven stages of grief. I would say that these stages are not all that different from what a writer goes through after receiving notes/edits from their editor. Although, maybe the process from one stage to the next is a little quicker, than say for someone who just lost a loved one.
Today I received an email from my editor. The email was four printed pages long, single spaced, and rather small font. As soon as I opened it I was SHOCKED (stage one) that all of these notes could possibly be about my book DENIAL (stage one continued)! Then I realized that not only were the notes on these four printed pages, but when I opened the attachment, my manuscript, I realized that there was not a single page, or even paragraph, that didn’t have deletions/additions/notes, etc.
OH MY GOD!!! PAIN (stage two) struck through my gutt and heart like a knife sliding into butter. I quickly shut the attachment, not wanting to see all the red mark-ups. I decided that reading the email first would be best. However, that only led to the impending GUILT (stage two continued) that I felt for having put this woman through reading, my obviously horrible manuscript. Why on earth would I have tortured her in that why?
Then I got to thinking. Why hadn’t any of the previous six people who read my manuscript told me how awful it really was? Why did they lead me to believe that it was good? ANGER (stage three). I began BARGAINING (stage three continued) with myself, telling myself that the story isn’t really that bad and maybe it just wasn’t her cup of tea, yadda yadda yadda.
Finally, I started really looking deeper into my editor’s notes. I read the email at least five or six times, and slowly I began to doubt myself, my ability to complete this project. Not only did I feel completely alone, because no one else was going to do it for me, but I felt like maybe I wasn’t going to be able to do it either. DEPRESSION (stage four) struck after reading the letter for the seventh time, but that didn’t last long! I’m not one to wallow. I put the letter down, woke up my children up, and got them ready for school. After seeing their smiling faced I decided that feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to get me anywhere.
I am always telling my children they can do anything and be anything they want in life. If I was going to set that example then I couldn’t allow myself to just give up so easily. I changed my attitude and read the editor’s letter again, and this time I looked at it not as a personal attack, but as constructive criticism, and I took an UPWARD TURN (stage five) toward a better attitude.
I called my editor and left a message, thanking her for all of her hard work and the great feedback she provided. I knew that reading the notes she sent me wasn’t going to be easy, and that I have a hard road ahead of me to get my book to its finished product, but that if I just WORK THROUGH (stage six) it with an open mind then I would be able to get it done.
So, now I am at that point of ACCEPTANCE (stage seven). I understand the task I am left with and I know that there is a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I am okay with that. I am willing to accept that challenge, and not back down. On top of all of that I have a new sense of HOPE (stage seven continued) that this challenge will bring with it a whole new set of experiences, and that I will learn so much from this process.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it isn’t going to be easy, and I am sure that in about a week or so I will be back on her crying, bitching, moaning, and complaining about all the work, and the fact that it is to hard, impossible, etc. However, for today, I am optimistic.
I’d like to say thank you! Thank you Jamie Aitchison, for taking the last two months to put so much hard work into my manuscript. It has been a huge project for me, and it means a lot to me that you would be so brutally honest with me. I know that sometimes it’s easier to say the nice thing, trying to avoid hurting someones feelings, but thank you for taking the harder road and telling me the hard to hear truth. With your notes and a lot of hard work I am confident that I can get this book to be as great as I know it can be.